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Briefly Report on Meetings with Village Development Committee/Ward Development Committee/ Ward Child Protection Teams/ and Traditional leaders (January-May 2015)

Agape AIDS Control Programme (AACP) is a local Non-Governmental Organization with her head offices in Shinyanga Municipal in Shinyanga Region and it is undertaking different programs among others been provision of legal aid services to vulnerable groups, prevention of  GBV and early marriages, Child and youth protection. In early January, 2014 Agape has secured funding for two years (2014-2015) from Terre Des Hommes Netherlands supported by Dutch Government to implement a child protection programme of “Stop Child Marriages Project in Kishapu and Shinyanga Rural Districts”. Indeed, the beneficiary of this project is a child who is a victim of child marriage and children at risk of child marriage and in need of prevention and protection from child marriage through education support, adolescent support groups, vocational training, temporary shelter and child protection system strengthening through child protection teams (Ward-District level), paralegals and school committees’ project support.

One among the project activities is quarterly meeting with VDCs/WDCs/WCPTs with the aim of discussing how to develop the child protection system within their localities. In April 2015, Agape AIDS Control Programme conducted a sharing meeting with Village Development Committee, Ward Development Committee, Ward Child Protection Teams, and Most Vulnerable Committees from 20 villages covered by stop child marriages project. The meeting agendas were developed in accordance with the previous meeting which was done in January 2015.   The meeting agenda includes the following:

  1. Opening remark  – Ward Councilor 
  2. Introduction  – Visitors 
  3. Organizational and project profile to newly elected WDC/VDC
  4. Project implementation report (January 2014 – December 2014)  
  5. Discussion  –
  • What went well during the 1st year of implementation of stop child marriages project?
  • What was done by WDC/WCPT/VDC members in order to ensure child protection and stop child marriages?
  • Which strategies developed by WDC/VDC/WCPT for the year 2015 to ensure child protection and stop child marriages?
  • How WDC/VDC/WCPTs involved in addressing the issue of student dropout?
  • What Agape AIDS Control Programme supposes to do in 2015 as a last year of implementation of stop child marriages project?
  • What are the strategies developed by WDC/VDC/WCPT members to address the cross cutting issues i.e.  HIV/AIDS, Killings of people with albinism and elderly people?
  • Enrollment of other victims of child marriages, classes will begin at 1st June 2015
  1. Other issues out of the main agenda
  2. Closing

Opening Remark

In all 10 wards the opening remark were done by ward councilors from the respective ward, expect for Samuye, Mondo and Kispapu Ward were village chairperson acting as Ward Councilor.  During the opening remark ward councilors appreciate the efforts done by Agape AIDS Control programme to fight against child marriages in their localities. As said by Chausiku Salum-ward councilor of Iselemagazi that “Agape plays a great role in educating our communities issues regarding child protection and effects of child marriages so it’s our duty to take that as a lesson and continue fighting against child marriages”

Introduction

WDC/VDC/WCPTs were introduced themselves and position that they hold within the community, then Agape AIDS Control Programme staff members introducing themselves and position that they hold within the organization.

Discussion–What went well during the 1st year of implementation of stop child marriages project?

From the discussion, the following issues were mentioned as good things which was done in the period of January 2014 December 2014e

  1. The large number of victims supported to pursue vocational training at Buhangija FDC
  2. Educational support to girls at risk of child marriages
  3. Awareness to the communities on issue of child protection is very high and community members are now understand the harmful practices of child marriages
  4. Follow up on child abuse cases i.e. pregnancies case was very productive hence arrested of alleged perpetuator, a good example is head master of Lyabukande Secondary School who was arrested after impregnated 13 students
  5. School clubs build confidence to students/pupils and enable them to understand their basic rights and report incidences of child marriage cases
  6.  This project also sensitize children on the importance of education and help to reduce school dropout
  7. At the beginning we thought the issue of fighting against child marriages is government responsibilities through Ward Executive Directors and Village Executive Directors but through Agape we came across and understand that all community members are responsible to ensure girls’ children are safe from child marriages and early pregnancies.
  8. Parents are sensitized to send their daughters to school
  9. As a result of this project, community members are now aware on the rights of children and they play a significant role to ensure child protection
  10. As a result of community awareness campaign, child marriage cases are reduced, for example out of 10 wards which WDC/VDC/WCPTs meeting were conducted its only 1 ward we found 3 cases of pregnancies and zero cases of child marriages
  11. Public meetings and Video sessions were done well and good and through these activities community members are now aware on the rights of children.
  12. Support of startup capital to groups of victim help them to start their income generating activities
  13. Child marriages and early pregnancies cases are reduced compared to past years i.e. this year 2015 no new cases reported and this is a result of Agape under stop child marriages project
  14. Train students on Sexual Reproductive Health Right was very useful component for children to understand their body status
  15. Training to teachers and community leaders were very useful and help teachers to be close to their students and understand their issues

Discussion - What was done by WDC/WCPT/VDC members in order to ensure child protection and stop child marriages?

  1. WDC/VDC/WCPTs developed by laws to ensure child protection and to deal with perpetuators of child marriages and early pregnancies i.e. one among the bylaws developed by Iselamagazi WDC states that “it is strictly prohibited for a girl child to attend wedding ceremony and escorting brides” , other one states that “children’s are not allowed to get out of their home places beyond 06:00 pm if found hanging out in villages beyond that time parents are questionable”
  2. WDC/VDC/WCPTs take the issue of child marriages and early pregnancies as a common agenda/cross cutting issue on WDC/VDC/WCPTs meetings
  3. WDC/WCPTS/VDC together developed a contract of ensuring that children’s registered in schools are suppose to study and finalizing the standards required by ministry of education and vocational training and that contract is signed by headmaster and parents/caregiver of the respected children
  4. WDC/VDC/WCPTs developed a bylaw that “Every school children is supposed to were school uniform all the time while in school”
  5.  WDC/VDC/WCPTs also sensitize community members through public meetings on the effects of child marriages and early pregnancies and they agreed to continue doing so
  6. WDC/VDC/WCPTs uses local security “sungusungu” to ensure child protection in their localities and these “sungusungu” are used to implement the started by laws
  7. WDC/VDC/WCPTs play a role in identifying victims of child  marriages and push them to Agape AIDS Control Programme for support
  8. WDC/VDC/WCPTs collaborate very closely with headmaster and head teachers to ensure children’s are protected from violence, also  headmasters and head teachers are members of WDC/VDC/WCPTs  so everything planned they are also involved.

Discussion - Which strategies developed by WDC/VDC/WCPT for the year 2015 to ensure child protection and stop child marriages?

  1. Continue educating community members on the effects of child marriages
  2. Continue sensitizing communities on the importance of education to girls children
  3. Continue working in collaboration with other actors on child protection to fight against child marriages and early pregnancies
  4. Continue implementing developed by laws
  5. To work closely with local security “Sungusungu” to ensure children’s are not participated in night clubs/bar and not participated in Video Shows during wedding ceremonies
  6. To work closely with Police Office to arrest all the alleged perpetuators
  7. Visit parents who have children’s and their children are not going to school to sensitizing them to send their children’s to school.
  8. To formulate village committee to fight against child marriages and child pregnancies
  9. To plan several sensitization meeting to community members on issues pertaining child protection
  10. Continue working closely with social welfare officer to ensure victims of child marriages are supported by Agape AIDS Control Programme

Discussion – How WDC/VDC/WCPTs involved in addressing the issue of student dropout?

  1. WDC/VDC received a report on student dropout status from headmasters and head teachers and work upon it by making follow up to respective students
  2. Most of the parents have a tendency of lying that their children are sick, so WDC/VDCs developed by laws which state that “if the student is not appeared in school for a single day then his/her parent is supposed to pay 500 Tsh as a penalty”
  3. To take parents to court for legal procedures if they fail to send their children to school

 Challenge: Most of school dropout cases take so long to end and consume a lot of money in making follow up which sometimes Ward Executive Director fail to proceeding with that case  

Discussion - What Agape AIDS Control Programme supposes to do in 2015 as a last year of implementation of stop child marriages project?

  1. All 10 visited WDC/WCPTs/VDC/MVCCs asked Agape AIDS Control Programme for project extension
  2. WDC/VDC/WCPTs members asked AACP to support boys and girls children especially those who came from vulnerable families
  3.  Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue sensitizing community members on the harmful practices of child marriages and early pregnancies
  4. WDC/VDC/WCPTs asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to support graduated victims of child marriages who taken vocational studies with sewing machines so as to enable them to start their own income generating activities
  5. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue sensitizing community members on issues pertaining child marriages through Video Cinema Shows
  6. WDC/VDC/WCPTs asked for more training on child protection, advocacy strategy and community mobilization
  7. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to scale up its intervention and cover the whole Shinyanga Region and that can end child marriages
  8. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue making follow up on the cases reported in the court even if after the end of the project so as to see justice is done and victims of child marriages get their right
  9. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue participating in WDC/VDC meetings even if the project ends to give advice to WDC/VDC members on issues pertaining child protection.
  10. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue sensitizing parents on the importance of education to their children’s
  11. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue training entrepreneurship skills to all supported victims of child marriages so as to enable them to change the knowledge that they have into business
  12. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to continue support victims of child marriages and those at risk
  13. WDC/WCPTs/VDC asked Agape AIDS Control Programme to establish paralegal centers in every village around Shinyanga Region.

Discussion - What are the strategies developed by WDC/VDC/WCPT members to address the cross cutting issues i.e HIV/AIDS, Killings of people with albinism and elderly people?

HIV/AIDS

  1. Home Based Care teams developed to provide services to HIV victims and distribute condoms for prevention of HIV/AIDS
  2. Sensitization committee were developed in the villages to sensitize community on importance of checking their body status

 Killings of People with Albinism and Elderly People

  1. WDC/VDC conduct identification exercise to their respective areas to know the number of people with albinism and elderly people and identify witch doctors who are operating in their localities
  2. To formulate hamlet security committee which is responsible to ensure people with albinism and elderly people are protected and to identify new comers in their localities
  3. To establish by laws which prohibited witch doctors conduct illegal local screening by using their charms and other magic tools 
  4. Monthly meeting with hamlet/village security committee to discuss security  issues within their localities
  5. Collaborate with religious leaders to sensitize community members on stop believing magic things  
  6. Elderly people are not allowed to stay alone in the household
  7. Every guest is supposed to be registered in a special book which is governed by hamlet leaders, it is strictly prohibited for indigenous to receive guest without telling hamlet leader

Enrollment of other victims of child marriages, classes will begin at 1st June 2015

After that discussion, Agape AIDS Control Programme focal person explain to WDC/VDC/WCPTs members that enrollment of other victims of child marriages who wants to pursue vocational training that 3rd round classes will begin at 1st of June 2015 and those who wish to join the programme are supposed to list their names to VEO/WEO before 25 of May 2015.  

6 Juni, 2015
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