One-stop Child Advocacy Centre opened in Kwakwani
New facility is one of six in operation across Guyana
GEORGETOWN, 11 JULY 2020 – UNICEF together with its partners, the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA), Blossom Inc. and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC)-Region 10, on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, opened a one-stop “Child Advocacy Centre” (CAC) in Kwakwani, for the reporting and treatment of child sexual abuse. The centre offers specialized services designed around responding to cases of child sexual abuse efficiently by ensuring that children have access to a child-safe and child-friendly space to share their stories and get the support that will help them overcome the trauma they have suffered. Being child-centered, the one-stop facility ensures that survivors do not have to recount their experiences any more than necessary.
The new Child Advocacy Centre will serve Kwakwani and other Upper Demerara-Berbice communities which were unable to access this specialised service because the next available centre is located in Linden. This centre is open to all communities, including migrants. It will also provide a hub for training to ensure that the CAC concept can be extended to other communities.
As of June 2020, the number of reports of child sexual abuse in Guyana exceeded 200 and access to services are critical, given the possible increased rates of violence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A report issued in April 2020 by the United Nations warned that children risk being among the biggest victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. While children have been largely spared from the direct health effects of the disease up to this point, the crisis is having a profound effect on their overall wellbeing, including a heightened risk of witnessing or suffering violence and abuse.
“We are delighted to open this Child Advocacy Centre in Kwakwani to respond to and prevent child sexual abuse. This will ensure that children and families in the hard to reach communities in the Upper Demerara-Berbice can receive this critical service,” said Founder and Managing Director of Blossom Inc. Ayodele Dalgety-Dean. “Blossom Inc. is passionate about ensuring that child victims of sexual abuse receive the best possible service, and this means that we must take services to children.”
The establishment of the Child Advocacy Centre at Kwakwani was made possible through joint efforts, active contributions and leadership of several partners including the CPA, Blossom Inc., the RDC – Region 10, the Kwakwani Neighbourhood Democratic Council, the Guyana Police Force and UNICEF. The CPA, Blossom Inc., the Guyana Police Force and UNICEF have also collaborated to ensure the continued operation of five other Child Advocacy Centres in the country – including at Linden, Mabaruma and Georgetown.
“UNICEF is pleased to support the setting up of the Child Advocacy Centres being a safe haven for children who are survivors of violence and offering services for them to recover. The services have gained the trust of the communities,” said UNICEF Country Representative Sylvie Fouet. “These essential and core child protection services are critical in ensuring that there are safe spaces, especially in times of COVID-19.”
In order to maximise the services, all partners and members of communities, including faith based organisations, are urged to play a more proactive role in protecting children from abuse, exploitation and violence. Reports of child abuse can be made to the Childcare and Protection Agency on telephone number 227 0979, while the Kwakwani Child Advocacy Centre can be contacted on telephone number 608 6719.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.
And for more information about UNICEF Guyana and Suriname visit www.unicef.org/guyanasuriname/