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World Vision Sierra Leone a child focused organization promoting the welfare and protection of children in collaboration with Freetong Players International has officially launched Pikin Tok initiative in Pujehun District on the theme ‘Giving Children a Credible Voice’ (Photo: World Vision Sierra Leone Ministry Quality Director Samuel Fonnie making a statement at the launching of the Pikin Tok initiative in Pujehun)
The objective of the Pikin Tok Initiative is to create a platform for children to express themselves in the areas of good health, education, child welfare and protection to stimulate dialogue between parents and state actors on issues affecting children.
World Vision Sierra Leone Ministry Quality Director Samuel Fonnie said the Pikin Tok initiative is a child protection unit approach to enhance participation and advocacy on issues affecting the welfare of children through information and dissemination.
He said children should be trained on how to influence policy makers on issues affecting them by creating a platform for children to be heard and listened to so as to harness their God giving talents.
The Ministry Quality Director Samuel Fonnie properly explained about the rights and responsibilities of children and implored parents to protect and seek the welfare of their children to enable them become useful citizens that can contribute to national development.
He said World Vision Sierra Leone is implementing the project in collaboration with Freetong Players International to provide space and capacity building for children drawn from deprived communities in Pujehun District.
Samuel Fonnie stated that the Pikin Tok initiative is aimed at empowering the children to be heard on issues like early marriage, teenage pregnancy, child rights and responsibilities, leadership skills, family planning and parental care, so as to encourage parents and state actors to improve their wellbeing.
He pointed out that the children will be trained on how to speak or debate on public forums and making of drama skits, designing of posters and printing of newsletters that give credible voices to children on issues affecting them with a sense of ownership.
Mr. Francis M. Lahai Head of Child Welfare Secretariat in the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children Affairs said World Vision is a leading child focused organization promoting the welfare of children in the country and lauded the launching of the Pikin Tok Initiative in Pujehun District.
He said the Pikin Tok initiative is a multi media approach to enhance the voices of children for action by parents and stakeholders and appealed to World Vision for the extension of the Pikin Tok initiative to other Districts across the country.
Mr. Francis M. Lahai properly explained about the Rights and Responsibilities of Children according to the Child Right Act. He also encouraged parents to listen to the needs of their children for a better understanding of their plight to avoid confusion.
Giving a background on the plight of children he said World Vision was the first organization that raised an alarm over increased child labour in the Diamond mines in Kono. He called on stakeholders particularly parents to ensure the protection of children by seeking their best interest in the areas of child survival, provision of basic food, shelter, clothing love and care and suggested for the involvement of children in the decision making process on their welfare.
He said progress has been made in Pujehun through the signing of a memorandum of understanding with paramount chief to stop female genital mutilation for children under the ages 18 and cautioned against excessive child labour.
The Chairman Council of Paramount Chiefs Pujehun District PC Gbonda expressed thanks and appreciation to World Vision for taking the lead in the protection of children’s welfare and stated that violation of the rights of children will not be tolerate in the District.
A representative of the Inter-Religious Council properly explained about the role of faith leaders and congregation on the protection and participation of children whilst a representative of the Ministry of Education Kenouwouma Hindowa Sallieu said children in multimedia advocacy is a step in the right direction towards the protection of children and reminded parents that children should not be manhandled but should giving the adequate support needed and also spoke about their responsibilities in the future.
The ceremony was moderated by the children themselves as stakeholders and their parents looks in admiration on their performances through songs, drama, debate and quiz on issues like marriage, teenage pregnancy, child rights and responsibilities, leadership skills, family planning and parental Care, so as to encourage parents and state actors to improve their well-being.
The launching of the Pikin Tok Initiative was climaxed by a certification and distribution of school bags containing books, pens, and other learning materials to the children amidst singing and dancing.
Most of the children interviewed expressed delight for having the opportunity to express themselves in public on issues affecting them, hoping that their parents and stakeholders will listen to their messages for an improved well-being of children.
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