A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Care and Support of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) provided by the Life Skills, HIV/AIDS Education Program. This workshop was hosted in Mokopane (west of Polokwane in Limpopo), and brought volunteers involved in organizations which deal with OVC’s from around the area together for a week of education and inspiration. Most of us were active members in the
The first day in the workshop we started by listing out all the problems that children and youth in
In the new constitution of
When this Children’s Bill of Rights was established, responsibility was automatically distributed to society as a whole to hold firm these rights. Even the children, the receivers, are responsible. If you are given the right to a name and identity, it is your responsibility to create a positive association with that name. If you have the right to be fed, it is your responsibility to not be gluttonous or wasteful, but to take care of the food and be thankful. If you have the right to shelter, it is your responsibility to be respectful and keep that shelter clean. If you have the right to education and relevant information, it is your responsibility to take it seriously and listen and learn. If you have the right to protection, it is your responsibility to not expose yourself to unnecessary harms.
On the other side, society is also responsible for upholding this Bill of Rights. Parents, guardians, and adults should ensure that their children and all children around (especially OVC’s) have a shelter above their head, food on their table, proper schooling, and protection from harm. Providing these things for your own child is instinctual, but as adults it is our responsibility to provide this care for all children, as if they are our own. In a child headed family, who is there to protect? Who is there to provide food, shelter, and proper schooling? It is not the child’s responsibility to be the giver of these rights, but the receiver. Unfortunately too many orphans and vulnerable children have to fill both roles. They are only children, but are forced to be parents as well. They lose their rights and their childhood if they do not receive the care and guidance they deserve.
What rights are you given, and what are the responsibilities associated with those rights? What are the rights of others that you are responsible to help uphold? In our constitution in the
I have a tendency to compartmentalize my life. The separation of my secular and sacred life makes it easier for me to deal with the contradictions between the two that I stumble across. Instead of addressing those contradictions and determining how I am going to resolve them personally, I simply separate my life into two categories and avoid the conflicts all together- I guess that is part of my non-confrontational manner. But with my experience here in
Imagine what the world would be like if everyone took responsibility for the rights they were given- rights from earth and from heaven. It sounds simple, but being aware of the rights and consequent responsibilities that we have and actively responding instead of living our lives being unaware and passive can make a significant difference in this world.
~Heather Anne Nelson