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Congo, Democratic Republic of the

In DR Congo, fundraiser aims to raise US$4 million for provincial child protection plan

© UNICEF DR Congo/2011/Walther
A girl speaks to the gala-invitees about her rights and the ones of her peers.

By Cornelia Walther

LUBUMBASHI, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 16 August 2011— On June 24, a fundraising gala organized following this year’s Day of the African Child gathered over 100 local authorities, development partners, businesspeople, parents and children around one shared goal – making child protection a tangible issue in Southern DR Congo.

The event launched a campaign that aims to mobilize US$ 4 million for Katanga’s Child Protection Plan 2011-2014, with the annual target of reaching 27,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

Shared responsibility

“The government does not see the development of a child happening outside his or her family framework,” explained Therese Lukenge, Provincial Minister of Mines, Gender, Family and Children, , when presenting the outline of the plan. “If this framework is absent or insufficient we must identify and reinforce viable alternatives. Putting street children and orphans in an institution is an option of last resort.”

Speaking to the issue, UNICEF’s Head of Southern DR Congo, Quoc Dang Nguyen stressed the need for a shared responsibility.

"What we are looking for is to leverage support,” he said. “We want to increase the number of allies who strive to make child protection a reality for every child in Katanga. We have a social and corporate responsibility today for the generation of tomorrow."

© UNICEF DR Congo/2011/Walther
In the provincial reference hospital a woman is waiting for the test-results of her grand-daughter. The little girl’s mother died from AIDS and her grandmother is the only family she has left.

‘Same rights’

Linda, 12, was the youngest participant of the event, but her eloquence proved that neither age nor handicap can block the potential that lies within her and her peers.

“You have an opportunity to act, please do something about it,” she stated emphatically. “I am blind but I can think. There is no reason to be afraid of speaking-up, just about doing nothing”

Her viewpoint was reinforced by Melissani, 13, who has already established herself a well-known face in Katanga’s child participation forums.

“We ask you to help children in getting access to education and health care. All of us have the same rights,” she stated. “I am lucky because I have parents, know how to read and have enough to eat. This does not mean that I do not care about things that happen around me.”

A brighter future

Proceeds of the evening will contribute to making the Provincial Child Protection plan operational, thanks to the solid involvement of private sector and institutional donors, and an enhanced partnership with local and faith based organizations.

"The compassion and generosity of Katanga’s private sector invitees were clearly on display during this gala event," said UNICEF’s Representative in DR Congo, Pierrette Vu Thi. "This is encouraging because only together we can sustainably improve the future of this country’s children. All of them have the same rights and we have a shared responsibility to make them come true. This gala illustrates that this concept is about to make its way."



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