Moses, aged 10 years, was born with a physical impairment. He was not able to go to school because of his condition and did not play with his siblings and other children in the neighborhood. His life changed significantly when he got an opportunity to join a child rights club and actively participate in it!
Moses lives in a grass-thatched hut with his family of 6 in a village in Lokopo Sub County. Every morning, his parents go to the nearby trading center to sell firewood in order to earn some money(EUR 0.75 - EUR 1.00) per day to feed the entire family. While growing up, Moses spent most of his time at home, watching his siblings play as he looked on. He did not play much with his siblings and the children in the neighborhood were never allowed to play with him.
Things changed for the better for Moses in September 2021. He was identified by the Dwelling Places project team that established community child rights clubs within Napak to strengthen prevention, response, reporting, and follow-up of child trafficking and sexual exploitation cases within the schools and neighboring communities.
During one particular mobilisation exercise, Moses’ parents were approached and requested to allow Moses to join other children for a Child Rights Clubs (CRC) training which was taking place in the community. At first, the parents were hesitant saying he would not be able to do much and that he was also not used to being around many people. However, the school mentor and the Local Council member informed the parents that Moses was going to be supported adequately and that he was in good hands. The parents finally accepted and the child was invited to join other children for the club establishment.
Moses had a hard time at first. He was shy and withdrawn, he was not accustomed to mingling with many children. However, with the support of the mentor and how other children cheered him to speak out whenever he was called upon, he was encouraged to participate.
The club chairperson was by Moses’ side to support him especially during group sessions and Moses opened up and everyone was amazed. He was very active and participated in responding to the views concerning children in his community especially views on children with disabilities. He highlighted signs of emotional and physical abuse for Children With Disabilities during the session. He also highlighted that children with disabilities are culturally believed to be a curse in his community and the traffickers would be less interested in them but are definitely at risk of abuse in the community, specifically emotional abuse caused by the harsh words that people say.
This particular opportunity changed Moses’ life for the better. He is able to attend the child rights clubs meetings where he receives training on child rights and responsibilities, how to identify signs of abuse in children, and the referral pathways. He learned that all children have equal rights, responsibilities and they are all entitled to equal rights without being discriminated against. He also took part in a debate aimed at empowering the children with information and skills to build their self-esteem and their confidence to become agents of change in the prevention of child trafficking and sexual exploitation not excluding children with disabilities.
“I thank Dwelling Places for establishing a child rights club in my community. Through this club, I have been accepted; I am now being loved by people and children in my neighborhood. Even when there are club activities like practicing songs, drama on sensitization about child trafficking and children’s rights, the club members consider me first and now that I know my rights and responsibilities as a child, I want to exercise them especially my right to education.”
There has been significant improvement in his day-to-day life. He is now able to play and interact with his siblings and the children in his community. He is able to support his family with home chores like grinding sorghum and sweeping the compound cheerfully and he is not afraid to talk to any visitors in his home.
Through the inclusion of children with disabilities in the child rights clubs, children like Moses are able to feel welcomed, able and confident to pursue their dreams. The community members are now showing Moses respect and love unlike before when they could not even allow their children to play with him. He has been embraced through the club activities and the children are eager to take him from his home to go and start their engagements and still escort him home when they complete their activities. Participating in club engagements has sparked Moses’ life.
Describing his promising future, Moses states, “I want to be someone great in future so that I support and be the voice to the children in Karamoja, especially those with disabilities.”