I see many challenges and barriers on different levels in creating change in my community. On a broader community level it seems that people tend to turn a blind eye to the atrocities that children experience, such as child abuse and child sexual exploitation/child trafficking. Community members and especially women feel powerless to do anything about these atrocities. Unemployed women, teenagers and children left without supervision while mothers seek work or are working, leave them on their own and vulnerable. Adults are not really being the care-takers, but are instead the substance abusers, abusers or victims of domestic violence and abuse themselves. This makes it difficult for them to understand what impact this has on their children. There is not enough understanding and awareness about the nature of sexual exploitation/trafficking and abuse; how it happens, what can be done about it and who the perpetrators are. Other challenges are not getting enough support from government departments or feeling let down by them, which further exacerbates and causes barriers to change.
On an institutional level government departments are not working together with each other and not engaging enough with civil society to combat these issues. One of the major barriers at the moment is the reduction of and lack of funding for non-profit organisations in my country, which has created a funding crisis. However, what I and my organisation have done is to forge more partnerships with other NPOs, government departments, build individual relationships with people on the ground.
I, with my colleagues, work on the ground-level, by creating awareness within civil society and government departments and ensuring that child protection is on the agendas of both alike. This helps in pulling together our resources and finding creative ways to help our clients.
We need to start with children and teens, especially our girls, before they become victims. One of the things I do is manage a victim empowerment programme, which provides counselling, support, life-skills, motivational sessions, parent-child groups, etc. However, I see the expansion of this empowerment, with Web 2.0, where girls and young women can share their experiences in a safe space and hopefully be empowered before they become victims. We are not reaching enough girls fast enough, but with the use of Web 2.0 I believe we can do this! Women, mothers, teen girls can start to really share with one another, support each other, find out that they are not alone, and mobilise to challenge government and NPOs to help them bring about change within their communities. Already with Pulse Wire and other social media, I inform others about what it is I do, what the issues are or need assistance with. Pulse Wire and other online communities is the future and is instrumental in empowering girls. As well as investing in women, key to ending poverty and empowering them with the tools of Web 2.0, where they will bring their own solutions and one day live in a world free of violence and abuse.
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Challenges and Solutions to Creating Change.