MASAKA – The Catholic Church in Masaka has initiated a partnership with the Buganda Kingdom and local governments in the region to promote child protection.
Masaka diocese has committed its grassroots structures – Small Christian Communities locally referred to as obutabi – to become the foundation socket for protecting children’s rights in the area.
Rev Fr James Ssendege – the Diocesan Pastoral Co-ordinator revealed that the Church was directly joining hands with the Buddu county cultural leadership as well as the district probation office to champion the protection of children in the area.
According to Ssendege, besides making children’s protection a major theme in all social gatherings this year, they plan to set-up committees of change agents that would be charged with monitoring families, taking stock of all cases of child abuse – and reporting the same to authorities.
Fr Ssendege explained that they had identified a group of laity, who underwent training on issues of children’s rights and their protection, and that these will directly corroborate with their counterparts in the local government and cultural leadership to ensure that children got into safe environments right from their homes.
Rose Nalubowa – the Co-ordinator, Education and Social Services at the Masaka Diocesan Laity Commission, noted that a checklist on children’s rights and violations alike had been generated, which would be circulated out to the leadership of the Small Christians Communities.
The leaders according to Nalubowa, would then, use the checklist to monitor compliance among their communities; offer guidance to the families and eventually report those who fail to desist from the vices.
Maria Nagawa – the Masaka district Principal Probation Officer noted that the partnership was long overdue, owing the fact of rising trend of child abuse in the area. For instance, she said, records from her office indicated that last year, Masaka district alone registered nearly 1,000 cases of child abuse, with hundreds going unreported in communities.
According to Nagawa, the commonest abuses against children in the area were sexual and physical violations, adding that the new multi-stakeholders intervention would assist in reversing the trend.