Yamileh M. Theodore
Sponsor Servicing Coordinator
Save the Children in Haiti
December 27, 2018
The idea of children’s rights is quite utopian to a child’s mind, but when summarized and explained in a way children can understand, it becomes more tangible.
Being conscious about this, the sponsorship team in Haiti met with governmental groups such as the Dessalines City Hall, departments related to social well-being and other local partners. Our goal was to have children’s participation in celebrating Universal Children’s Day last November, and help them reflect on their rights as children. We wanted to do something special where the children themselves would be the promoters of their rights within the community. Involving local groups and stakeholders was important too, in order to ensure community members feel an ownership of the programs we help start for children, and to prepare them to manage activities on their own one day and ensure sustainability of our work.
The children prepared for weeks for the celebration. With their friends, they learned about children’s rights at school, engaged in group discussions and shared stories and drawings that helped them reflect on what their rights are. For example, what education did they have a right to as children? They came to see that they not only had the right to attend a good school, but also the right to eat healthy meals, to play and enjoy their time as children, to not fear physical punishment or abuse, and the right to grow up in a clean environment.
Over 70 schools and 12 youth clubs participated. During the grand celebration, students presented their thoughts, through drawings, posters and creative writing, with the support of Save the Children staff.
Davidson, a 9-year-old fourth grade student, was one eager participant. He found himself inspired by a little girl from his neighborhood who worked as a restavèk, a child domestic worker who goes to school in the afternoon, only after the day’s work is finished. He said until learning about children’s rights, he thought it was normal for her to be in that position, since she was orphan.
Now, he sees that little girl is a victim. “People don’t give restavèk children enough food to eat, they don’t let them sleep early even though they are the ones to wake up first in the morning.’’ He explained, “Thanks to Save the Children now I know that even children in restavèk must have the right to sleep, to go to school and the right to have three meals a day.”
By advocating for children’s rights like access to school and health services, sponsorship is helping to raise awareness and shift local cultures to see these kinds of traditional practices as harmful to society.
Dessalines is really grateful for sponsors like you because many children like Davidson now know their rights as a child and will advocate to help parents, teachers and other community members to respect them. Today, they know that they can be anything they want when they grow up, thanks to your continuous support!
What is your understanding of children’s rights? How are they different from the rights of adults? How do they need extra protection? Visit SavetheChildren.org today to learn more about how you can help us advocate for the rights of children!