Community of Sant’ Egidio has called on authorities, parents and guardians to heed to children’s voices and choices if the principle of best interest of the child is to be realised.
The call was made on Saturday at the House of Friendship in Blantyre when Sant Egidio, a Catholic layman movement, launched commemoration of the Day of an African Child with street connected children. The day falls on June 16 every year.
Speaking in an interview, Dyna Tembo, Community of Sant Egidio volunteer responsible for street kids, said they dedicated the month of June to bring awareness on children’s rights by focusing on street kids’ education.
“These street kids are the most vulnerable and usually neglected without regret. Most of them don’t go to school because their parents can’t afford the requirements,” he said.
Social justice activist, Alexious Kamangila, who also volunteers for the organisation, urged child rights advocates to step up their efforts in protecting street connected children.
He said: “We have a lot to do for the most vulnerable children in the streets and with disabilities. It is sad sometimes even those intended to protect them also violate their rights.”
During the event, a 15-year-old girl, who is now in Form 2, testified how Sant Egidio showed her love and encouragement to leave the streets despite her struggles.
“I have witnessed my friends venturing into child prostitution, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, falling pregnant and dying. If it wasn’t for Sant Egidio, I would have had no future,” she said.
The day was characterised by games, prayers, speeches, gifts and lunch. Later, Sant Egidio volunteers visited 25 child-headed and vulnerable families around Blantyre City where they donated blankets, winter jackets, food packs and learning materials.