This year’s commemoration of the Day of the African Child (DAC) was overshadowed by the current electioneering fever that has gripped the nation. The Day was not vividly celebrated colorfully as it used to be countrywide. It is a day celebrated every year on the African Continent and around the world since 1991 when it was initiated by the Organization of African Unity- OAU (now African Union – AU).
The OAU dedicated June 16 to the honour of the brave actions of young people during the 1976 Soweto uprising, when over 1000 of Black school children took to the streets under the South African apartheid regime to protest against the inferior type of education they were receiving; and also wanted to be taught in their native language. This resulted in more than 700 of them being murdered as the protest continued for weeks. It’s a day which was perhaps amongst one of the darkest days in the history of the African continent.
In honour of those fallen angels, DAC is a day to fight for the cause of children in trouble: orphans, the disabled, street children and impoverished children who will inherit the continent. A day to remind the African Community, political leaders and organizations to efficiently address issues of child trafficking, teenage pregnancy, child marriage, child labour and protect the rights and dignity of children.
In homage to the day and in recognition of the importance of education to the overall development of children for the future of Sierra Leone, AWOL celebrated the Day of the African Child (DAC) 2023 with homeless children in the Northern district headquarter town of Makeni, Bombali District. AWOL offered rice and cash to the homeless children and inspired them to stay out of trouble and to give themselves up for apprenticeship in middle manpower jobs.
AWOL Chairman, Amb. Anthony Navo Jnr. says in Freetown that he hopes the small gesture will make the children feel that they are part of society and some people actually care about their situation.
“Many children find themselves on the streets homeless not by their own making. These children need to be rescued and given hope and opportunities so they do not become wasted talents,” says Amb. Navo Jnr., and commended all local and international organizations that are working to get children off the streets and give them meaningful lives.
AWOL further joins Save The Children, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Children Forum Network Sierra Leone (CFN-SL) to condemn the use of children in political campaigns, protests, events, or activities and to ensure their protection from any form of exploitation, manipulation, or harm during the electoral process.
AWOL introduced the school feeding and awards program in 2007 and has since been an important annual event in its calendar of activities. Over the years we have reached out to school children in many deprived communities across Sierra Leone, including Kroo Bay and Mabella in Freetown and Gondama in Bo District, Southern Sierra Leone.
AWOL joined other organizations as all celebrate the uniqueness and achievements of Sierra Leonean children and affirm faith in the possibilities of their future; and the future of the country as a whole.