Let's Realise! all change starts with us!: a national conference for children.
Article Type: Conference news
Subject: Child welfare (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Child welfare (Management)
Author: Kayle, Natasha
Pub Date: 07/01/2009
Publication: Name: Sister Namibia Publisher: Sister Namibia Audience: Academic; General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Sister Namibia ISSN: 1026-9126
Issue: Date: July, 2009 Source Volume: 21 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Namibia Geographic Code: 6NAMI Namibia
Accession Number: 212549475
Full Text: In June 120 children from all 13 regions got together in Okahandja for a week to make a change for their future at the Let's Realise Conference hosted by Lifeline/ChildLine Namibia with funding from Intrahealth and UNICEF. The conference aimed to extend the current platform opened by Uitani ChildLine Radio on NBC National Radio, Base FM and Omulunga Radio to create an environment where children could participate and discuss challenges such as HIV and stigma, discrimination, the new child protection bill and sex and sexuality.

Breaking through myths and fear

The session on HIV and Stigma was opened by two youths from Khomas Region, Ndilimeke Phillipus (12) and Rejoice Amunyela (14) who acknowledged that sometimes they are afraid of playing with children with the virus out of fear and a lack of knowledge. The ChildLine team facilitated a session to shed more light on high and low risk behaviours to break through the fear. The children formulated recommendations for government, parents, educators, peers and themselves to make a change. Government was requested to build more voluntary counselling and testing centres and health care centres in the south, to include HIV topics for debate by the youth parliament and for politicians and prominent Nainibians to stand up and speak out on how HIV has affected their lives. The children would also like to see more white people in advertising campaigns to break through myths and misconceptions. They agreed that peers and the Let's Realise children should be patient, open, supportive and tolerant of others. They should stand up for what they know is right.

Challenging discrimination

The second theme was discrimination against people living with HIV, people with a disability, racism and tribalism. It kicked off with a rap written by some of the delegates, and by a testimony from two participants from the school for the hearing impaired. Their stories touched the hearts of those present and showed how even small actions and comments can be very hurtful. The children learnt to walk in another's shoes through a 'discrimination game' in which their faces were painted in different colours and they received different treatment, such as getting lunch first, having to sit on the floor, or be blindfolded for a session. The recommendations from this session included a call for parliament to be gender balanced, for children with disabilities to be integrated into mainstream classes, and for the code of conduct in schools to prohibit discrimination.

The age of consent

The third topic under discussion was the new Child Care and Protection Bill. The Let's Realise delegates want to see proper schools in rural areas, and teachers who lead by example. Special children's courts should be developed and cases should be dealt with faster. As for the age of consent for HIV and pregnancy testing--this should be brought down and children should be able to get protection for themselves and their peers. The wellbeing of children should always come first.

Gender and sexuality

The last session opened a platform for debate around gender, gender roles and gender norms. It also approached subjects such as prostitution, intergenerational relationships and homosexuality. The children agreed that women and men should be treated equally and given the same opportunities instead of being forced into a box because of their sex. The importance of standing up for yourself against people with money and influence such as sugar daddies and sugar mummies was highlighted, as were questions concerning the effects of being sexually active at a young age. The youth had lots of questions concerning homosexuality and the rights of gay people. They agreed that all people should be treated fairly and not be discriminated against. This means that homosexual people should also have the right to wed.


To put it in the words of Rivaldo, an 11-year-old delegate from Gobabis, "what I will remember the most is that all change starts with us! I can and must make a change for me and others."
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.