We trust you are all well and settled back into life after the summer hols. Both Isla and Amba are now settled in school and nursery and seem to be thriving. Swimming is now the main family activity as the temperatures out here are increasing into the mid thirties! We are entering the hottest time of the year in Zambia – with temperatures reaching as high as 40. I hear that the rising humidity in October can make for an uncomfortable time!! Not sure how I will function at that point but we have recently acquired a large paddling pool in the garden so thinking I will spend as much time as I can in there!
We are so looking forward to the next few weeks – some people from our church are coming out at the beginning of October and then my mum and Sam’s mum are joining us a couple of weeks after that! It will be so exciting to share what we have been up to out here with some special people and give them a glimpse into the life we now have. However, at the moment we have to be very focused as we are facilitating a big training course next week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Since we have been here we have been involved in developing Child Protection Standards and incorporating them into the EFZ Action Plan for Child Protection. Following the launch of this Action Plan in June 2012, we have been spending most of our time compiling a comprehensive training package to equip Child Protection Advocates across the country. These advocates will be responsible for dealing with child protection concerns on the ground and local level. The training course includes 5 Modules: 1) Children & Childhood, 2) Understanding Child Abuse, 3) Recognising and Responding to Child Abuse, 4) Building a safer church and 5) Equipping children to protect themselves and others.
Next week we are training 27 people across the District of Lusaka, representing 9 churches & community projects.
We are excited about the impact that this training could have. There is a culture of ‘silence’ here in regards to child abuse, particularly sexual abuse & defilement. Being a christian nation, the church is the centre of most communities. Therefore, the church can play a huge role in breaking this silence by becoming aware of the issues and being equipped to deal with them. I have been told that a common practice to deal with child abuse in Zambia is for the perpetrator to ‘pay off’ the victim’s family. In other words, giving money as compensation for any harm caused. The issue is then dealt with and taken no further. The police are not involved, no one is brought to justice, the perpetrator is left to attack again and as a consequence I wonder whether the child’s therapeutic and medical needs are fully met.
Last week we attended Court to support a young girl who was viciously attacked and raped by two men outside the EFZ offices in March this year. The attack took place at 2pm whilst the girl was walking back from school. She was found by 2 strangers who brought her to our offices for help. She bravely made a statement to the police and last week was expected to attend court and testify. Sam and I had no idea what to expect but were certainly not prepared for what we did observe. Offences against children are dealt with other offences, mixed up with car traffic offences and similar. The girl had to stand in court, facing her accused and give a detailed account of the attack. she did this with no lawyer or advocate, was told to speak up on various occasions and had to speak in front of almost a hundred people not connected to her offence. She was then told to cross the room and touch the shoulder of the man who raped her in order to identify him to the court. The accused was then allowed to answer to her account and then proceeded a conversation between both of them whereby he claimed they were having an affair and she denying it. Watching the experience unsettled me. Without having an indepth knowledge of how things work in the UK, I do know that this girl was re-living the trauma again by having to testify in this way, in an adult court, in front of so many people and directly conversing with her accused. our ED now wants us to do a piece of advocacy work to look at making the court process and for those children who are specifically required to testify in court, more child friendly. For example, the use of screens and video link for child witnesses.
So we are busy with work and enjoying the many challenges facing us. We would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we train next week.
Love to you all
Hannah and Sam