by Akpet Obaji
The Country Director, Stepping Stones Nigeria, SSN, an NGO working in Calabar, Mr. Ian Harvey has disclosed to CrossRiverWatch that the Cross River State government has been of great support to his organization in their quest to bring education to vulnerable children in the state.
Mr. Ian made the disclosure after his organization in partnership with Basic Right Counsel Initiative, BRCI a Non-Governmental Organization, NGO based in Cross River concluded a one day workshop for children in Calabar yesterday.
His word, “We have a good relationship with the state government especially in education because we are particularly there with our literacy program for children to read and write better in school, we have cordial relationship with the Ministry of Education and State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB”.
Mr. Ian shared part of their aims and objectives to include: “To uphold the rights of children; vulnerable children who face risk of abuse, child witchcraft accusation, sexual abuse. We try to support them in different ways; through direct support, advocating for them at different levels, and as well as providing education”.
He however noted that irrespective of the achievements they have recorded after 9 years in the country, they are also faced with numerous challenges.
His words, “There are lots and lots of different challenges, some of them are financial leverage to extensively support and sustain the various projects we have embarked upon here. Another challenge is direct communication, electricity, poor internet connectivity, as well as our work been upheld at the government level”.
Also speaking, Program Manager for the Violence Abuse and Neglect Program, Stepping Stones Nigeria, Dr. Emilie Secker revealed that they have been in Cross River State for nearly five years out of the nine years they’ve been in the country.
Dr. Emilie said: “Our aims and objectives are centered on children to help them grow in a safe, healthy and enabling environment, we want these children to have chance and opportunity of becoming what they want to be in life. It’s keeping them safe from harm and other dangers by equipping them through education”.
She went on to assert that the workshop with the children is part of their efforts at Stepping Stones Nigeria to meaningfully engage children, through child participation to hear the children’s’ voices, to enable them have some inputs into their strategic plans for the future so that they will decide for themselves based on interest, zest not parents choosing for them.
Dr. Emilie commended the family court that the state government has been running saying it has been helping children access justice.
She advised parents to know the laws that protect their children lamenting that “many people I know don’t know there’s a law in Cross River State called the child rights law, they should abide by these laws and know that abuse can take different forms; physical, emotional, psychological etc”.
On his part, the Executive Director, Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, Barrister James Ibor maintained that the workshop is one of the ways his organization uses to touch the lives of children especially those who have been victimized by witch craft branding, sexually and otherwise.
Bar Ibor pledged his commitment to the struggle to liberate children from the monster called abuse, warning those who abuse children to have it at the back of their mind that “they will bear children some day and their friends and family too and it might be anybody’s turn.”
Responding on behalf of the participants Miss. Rebecca Effiom Edem, Master Samuel Effiom Edem, Miss Joy Eyo all expressed gratitude to their trainers and explained that they were taught how to learn, how not to engage in wanton playing, and not to disobey their parents”.
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