Yesterday we completed our latest Safe Places programme in an area called Bauleni. Bauleni is a large compound or shanty town in lusaka close to where we live. It has approximately 15,000 people. Our participants highlighted the risks children are facing in this community. There are many bars situated amongst houses and children are often unsupervised, roaming the streets. Child labour is also high and children as young as 13 are being forced into marriage so that families can recieve the ‘lobola’ (the cash gift to the brides family).
Participants represented ten churches and schools from within Bauleni. It was a real privilege to spend two days with such inspiring people dedicated to see children’s lives change.
Debates are always common and thoroughly enjoyed on our programmes and each event raises different issues. This time we had a fascinating discussion on how children in the Zambian culture are not traditionally allowed to express themselves freely. Children are encouraged to speak to their grandparents, not their parents, if they have concerns or questions around sex, love relationships or their private body parts. These are such taboo subjects that if a child points to the private parts and asks what they are, an adult may use a totally random word like ‘plate’ or ‘cow’ to describe the bodily parts! It can sound bizarre to our culture in the UK but since the subject is never discussed, the thinking is to avoid it totally. For children to express themselves freely to adults is a sign of disrespect.
It is fascinating working in a totally different culture to our own where the opposite is largely true in that our children are totally free to express their views and thoughts. Sometimes too much!
This lack of freedom of speech for children in Zambia means that they are less likely to report incidences of abuse to adults around them. They are so fearful. Working with communities in a culturally sensitive way is critical as we explore who children can go to for help.
I hope these photos give you a taster….
Once again a big thank you to all our Tehila Activists for enabling us to run this programme. To hold such an event it costs approximately £200. This equips up to 30 community leaders including pastors, teachers, Sunday school teachers, police and health workers with knowledge on how to keep children safe. Tehila supports the organisations to implement their learning and sensitise others in their community. The impact reaches hundreds of children who come into contact with these leaders and their organisations. Child cruelty can end.
If you would like to become a Tehila Activist and support our ongoing work by donating a minimum of £5 a month, we would love to hear from you.
But for now, have a great rest of your week.
Love the Tehila Team xxx