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29 November

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FMSI “link” person at work on child rights

 

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workshop on the UN Convention on Child Rights in Nyanga

29/11/2012: Zimbabwe

After reporting about the work of Christopher Lus in Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, here is another example of how the  “link” persons – the contact people for FMSI in the Administrative Unites of the Marist Institute – are fulfilling the potential of the Child Rights training workshop organized by FMSI from May 21st to June 2nd 2012. Br. Fortune Chakasara, FMSI contact person for the Marist Province of South Africa, offered a workshop on the UN Convention on Child Rights in Nyanga (Zimbabwe) on the 24th September. The course was addressed to the brothers and teachers of the local Marist school. According to the participants, it met their expectations. The following is the account given by one of them, Br. Tererai Gijima.

 “Here at Marist Nyanga we were honoured by the visit of Br. Fortune Chakasara this time as the link of FMSI (Marist International Solidarity Foundation) in the Province. Apart from the joy of having to host him, he offered a workshop on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which took place on the 24th of September 2012. The whole teaching staff was more than eager to learn more on the topic as it is a hot matter in the teaching profession of late. In well animated and colourful slide shows and group discussions we had sessions that were breathtaking and thought provoking as far as child protection is concerned.

 Br. Chakasara took the edge off our anxiety by explaining how the Marist Brothers have established an organization which basically deals with the rights and protection of children: FMSI. “Its offices are in Rome and Geneva. Geneva office carries out child rights advocacy in the United nations system. Child rights are inevitable in the process of educating the child. It is an important responsibility we cannot turn our concerns from. It is all for the good of the child,” he explained. To educate a child you have to love them first, it is the inspiration of Fr. Champagnat in his vision for Marist education. However in the realities of the world today we have seen that it is important to protect the children even as we try to educate them. We have to do something to protect the children we look after and also protect ourselves in this noble profession.

 We had ample time to discuss the document CRC and try to apply it to our situation in the school. In our efforts to apply discipline and order in the school, now we are challenged to always consider if the course of action we are to take is really for the benefit of the child, for they too have rights and we are now well acquainted with the matter. Marist schools should lead in respecting the rights of the child and fostering an environment conducive for the all round development of the children.

 The brothers and the teachers gave extensive feedback from their experiences in the profession and admitted that the workshop was a great step forward as here and there students were already ahead on the matter (some NGO’s have done some good work on awareness programs for the students) making disciplinary measures a tough affair on the campus. Many of our questions and doubts were cleared and by the end of the day, we were all smiles as we continued chewing over the implications of  CRC as we walked home.  Many thanks to Br. Fortune for his expertise and availability; we are now a step ahead at Nyanga!”

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