Thursday, 16 June 2022 marked commencement of the ‘All Out to End Child Poverty – Looking back, Forging ahead’ campaign, in a captivating virtual launch event bringing together over 100 participants on Zoom and a host of others streaming live on YouTube and Facebook. The 2-hour event marked the beginning of a campaign to celebrate global progress made by Arigatou International’s Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty towards overcoming child poverty over the last 10 years, marking its 10th anniversary, dubbed ECP@10.
At the event, speakers recalled the Initiative’s launch and nascent start 10 years ago in Das es Salaam Tanzania, during the 4th forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children. The event took stock of the milestones, challenges and emerging trends on child poverty over the last 10 years with regards to the work of End Child Poverty. This was shaped through conversations between children and adults who included faith leaders, academia, researchers.
Children shared their views on poverty, called on leaders and policy makers to put in. ore effort to respond to child poverty and further pledged by themselves to take action to eradicated poverty in their communities.
“Children in Sri Lanka have low levels of self-esteem due to lack of lack of financial resources in their families, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These has caused mental and physical issues in children. We have come up with a solution for this, conducting leadership programs to children in the most poverty-stricken villages of Sri Lanka. We believe that changing the mindset of children from a very young age can change their future” Sanara and Tiara; participating children from Sri Lanka.
“Here in Korogocho, many kids like myself have been exposed to poverty, and we urge our leaders to reduce the levels of poverty in our country” Sheila, participating child from Kenya
A participating child form Ukraine, now living in Romania due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, asked the authorities in Romania to make schools more friendly to Ukrainian children by enabling them to learn a few foreign languages in order to be able to adjust to the new environment.
“The language is hard and the schools here teach in Romanian language and kids don’t understand anything. I would like us to be given 5 hours a day to learn the new language” Adel, child from Ukraine, living and studying in Romania.
Responding to children’s concerns, Dr. Katherine Marshall, Lead, World Faiths Development Dialogue noted that the lack of children in policymaking processes curtails their voices and contribution to policy development.
“When you hear directly from children and youth, then it makes it difficult not to act, but it is difficult, not to recognise them” she said.
Part of the progresses and key areas regarding eradication child poverty discussed in the launch event was children participation especially around sustainable development. Children had an opportunity to dialogue with adults on matters sustainable development. These conversations came at the backdrop of efforts by End Child Poverty to establish a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Academy for children, which was symbolically launched at the event.
“What could our teachers and parents do to ensure we eat safe, good, and enough food at school and at home?” asked Michelle, one of the participating children.
While responding to Michelle and other concerns by children on sustainable development, Dr. Vinu, President of Shanti Ashram, noted that the SDGs were rooted in human respect and human dignity and a moral imperative to take action. She emphasized on the need to have children on the table in intergenerational dialogues on sustainable development and how them (children) could take part.
“Being at the table enables children to contribute to the SDGs and that makes a difference” she emphasized.
Dr. Vinu later symbolically launched the SDGs Academy for children as a safe space and program for children tom learn and contribute to achieving the SDGs. While launching the Academy, Dr. Vinu commended Arigatou international for establishment of such a noble space for children to be meaningfully involved in implementing the SDGs.
“I inaugurate with tremendous joy the SDGs Academy for Children” she said.
Other than highlighting progress made and some for the challenges regarding tackling child poverty, the event presented an opportunity to look yonder, on the road ahead and even reinvigorate efforts to combat poverty. Dr. Kul Gautam, Co-Chair of the Arigatou International Advisory Group was concerned that despite the growing number of rich people across the world, we still had 800 million people, mostly children going to bed hungry each day. He challenged that the world has sufficient resources to fight poverty and that the fight must start with child poverty.
While echoing Kul’s remarks, Fred Nyabera, Director of Arigatou International – End Child Poverty challenged participants to take pledges and commit to eradicate child poverty. He offered a variety of key areas elucidated in the campaign, within which people could pledge to end child poverty. Such areas included; education, nutrition, climate action, donations, action on the SDGs among others.
“We welcome you to think about the pledges. We invite you to think about participatory engagements and the one thing we can do as communities to end child poverty” he urged.
At the launch event, Dr. Kul pledged to expose the root causes of poverty and motivate adults to gear efforts towards combating child poverty. Dr. Vinu pledged to use her gifts, mind, energy and expertise to continue push religious government to end child poverty, while Fred Nyabera pledged to mobilise 10,000 tree planting within 10 days. The ECP@10 campaign welcomes the public to pledge towards eradicating child poverty. Details on how to pledge on the campaign website.
Addressing participants at the launch, Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou International challenged participants to view the End Child Poverty 10th anniversary campaign as a unique opportunity to put high on the agenda the needs of children living in poverty.
“This 10th anniversary is a unique opportunity for us to put the most vulnerable children living in poverty high on the agenda of faith communities and the international community in reaffirming our collective commitment to building a world free of child poverty” he encouraged.
“I invite you to join this journey not only to celebrate what we have accomplished but also to look ahead at what we can do” he added.
Besides showing participants and the public on End Child Poverty’s 10-year journey towards tackling child poverty, the launch event aimed to mobilise support and accompaniment throughout the campaign period intended to run through to the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), in October. The campaign is a commemoration of 10 years of Arigatou International’s Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty.
Learn more from the campaign website.