|© UNICEF/ HQ06-0187/Kamber|
|Narrow alleyways like this one in Kibera, a slum area of Nairobi, become dangerous places for children at night. Many children try to travel in groups and along main streets to avoid encountering sexual predators and other dangers.|
By John Allison
NEW YORK, USA, 22 August 2006 – The ‘Stop the Violence against Children’ campaign got a further boost this past weekend in Naivasha, Kenya, during the first-ever community fair promoting the initiative.
Launched last month, Stop the Violence against Children is being led by the Kenyan Children’s Department with support from UNICEF, religious groups, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. The campaign aims to empower people to take action against violence in the home.
The fair in Naivasha was kicked off by the arrival of the Stop Violence Bus, which travels the country disseminating information and raising awareness about violence against children. On board were some of Kenya’s leading DJs and performers, who took to the stage to entertain the thousands of people who showed up at the event.
In addition to good music, the audience got good advice at various booths set up by NGOs and others addressing the issue of child violence. The booths were created not only to provide information, but also to alert the Children’s Department about what programmes are being implemented and where more progress is needed.
|© UNICEF/ HQ06-0191/Kamber|
|A Kenyan girl on the outskirts of Kibera, a slum district of Nairobi, the capital.|
The fair was one of many planned in support of the campaign; each month a different district will host its own event.
“This is about saying to people, ‘It doesn't have to be this way,’” said UNICEF Communication Officer Sara Cameron. “Get together with other people in your community, take action.”
Some people did take action last April, when they poured into the streets in protest over the murder of a 15-year-old boy. The community’s response illustrated the growing frustration of many Kenyans with the level of violence in their country and signalled that the time was ripe for change.
Showing what can be done
“Every day the newspapers are filled with the most heinous reports of the abuses of children, and it really was a feeling that it was time to do something about it,” said Ms. Cameron. “UNICEF was the only organization that could pull together the broad coalition of partners needed in order to really address it at a national level.”
UNICEF and its partners aim to raise 100 million Kenya shillings ($1.3 million) to protect at least 500,000 children affected by violence. On Monday, a cell phone ringtone fundraising campaign was launched to help reach that goal. Subscribers can pay 25 Kenya shillings for each ringtone, with proceeds going to support the anti-violence initiative.
“One hundred million shillings will really help us make significant progress and help us show what can really be done,” said Ms. Cameron.