COTFONE SPEAK! Success Story
A Child-Led Music, Dance And Drama Festival On Discrimination and Exclusion From The Benefits Of Social Policy and relating Interventions
The chronically poor, orphaned and vulnerable children in Lwengo find themselves in a vicious circle they cannot break. As one of the most affected districts by HIV in Uganda, many people are affected by the disease to the extent that they cannot afford neither education nor proper clothing. Although there are many measures and projects implemented to improve the situation of the population, the most vulnerable have few benefits from them. Without platforms to raise their voices, the vulnerable, no matter of which age, have no chance to directly draw attention to their situation.
Hence, it is necessary to Increase awareness and understanding among the community and the people in charge why marginalized children have greater needs than others as well as to give the vulnerable a platform to speak up. Aiming for a clear understanding why the chronically poor, orphaned and vulnerable children in Lwengo are discriminated and excluded from the benefits of social policy as well as related interventions, Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE) in partnership with World Alliance for Citizen Participation (CIVICUS) hosted a child-led music, dance and drama festival on 4 October 2017.
Under the theme “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for all children in Lwengo”, marginalized children carried out their own advocacy and CIVICUS and COTFONE provided them a platform to speak. Power people were able to see the problem and the solutions from children’s perspectives. Children and young people owned the solutions. They were visible as social actors and active citizens standing up for their rights. Promoting the core messages that all children in Lwengo (including orphans, the poor, the disabled, migrants, child mothers, ex-felons, street children etc,) shall get equal protection, empowerment and opportunities and that, if protected and empowered, even marginalised children can contribute to the development of Lwengo and Uganda, between 4.000 and 4.500 guests mobilised were part of the event. With 7 speakers ranging from district staff to the area woman member of parliament (MP) Hon. Cissy Namujju as our guest of honour, more than 420 pupils from 12 schools and Daxx Kartel (singer), we were able to mobilize people from all ages and social layers to spread our message of equal opportunities for all children.
Mr. Kayinga Muddu Yisito, Chief Executive Officer, COTFONE said this is the biggest event we have ever managed. And it was a great success. COTFONE wanted marginalized children to gain self-confidence and be visible as social actors and active citizens standing up for their rights. The children who performed were amazing. Children and audience also loudly expressed surprise that with minimal preparation, they could stand upright on their feet and speak directly to powerful people with no fear. They are ready to do this again and again to fan the message to wider audiences. Our village leader (Ms. Nalwoga Solome) said in more than 20 years of her political life, she has never mobilised as successfully as we did. The area MP publicly pledged to support COTFONE and partners to accelerate protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for these future voters in Lwengo.
COTFONE continues to promote the same message, through all available means in different forums more emphatically. Eager to organize the event again in September 2018, we as COTFONE hope to welcome you and share our passion for promoting protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for all children with you.