As an organization that has worked with children for the past thirteen years, ElShaddai Centre has always strived to provide a nurturing environment for children to grow to their potential through education and learning. With that said, the topic of child protection has always been something essential to our ministry as it reflects our core values.
In August, the social concerns team launched our ‘child rights awareness’ educational online sessions with students of our secondary school (ElShaddai Excel Learning Centre) as well as children and youth of various diaspora communities. The purpose of this project is to educate students and children of the communities to be aware of their own rights and how to protect themselves from harm. These sessions were focused on these aspects: educating children on universal child rights, identifying types of violence against children, and ways to protect yourself from harm.
We began the sessions by introducing the topic of child protection, including the basic universal rights of a child, as well as international and national policies and guidelines for the protection of children, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) and the Malaysian
Child Act 2001. The three basic rights that were specially highlighted during the sessions were: a child’s right to education, to be protected from violence, and the right to be protected from child labour. Next, we focused on how to identify different types of violence that affects children, including domestic violence, child marriage, the different types of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual), and neglect. Lastly, we concluded the sessions with practical ways that our students and children of the community can reach out for help if they find themselves in situations that violate their rights as a child.
Apart from reaching out to classmates, teachers, or even the authorities, we have set up an anonymous helpline that was specially created for our students, where they could contact this anonymous number to seek help (See poster on below).
– Annabella Ching, Social Worker
Issues like child marriage and abuse are serious issues that affect children in every part of the world. We see it on the news, we read articles and stories of strangers from afar, but as a society, we fail to realize how prevalent and serious these issues are happening in our midst. ‘Children’ is universally defined as anyone below the age of 18, and they are one of the most vulnerable populations of the world. Children are the future of the world. Therefore, we have a responsibility not just to protect them from violence, but to create a nurturing environment for their growth and wellbeing.
There is a saying that goes, “prevention is better than cure”. I believe the best way to approach the topic of violence against children is through education and awareness. Society must be aware of issues perpetuating our youth and our children. Governments, policy-makers, educational institutions, and parents must prioritize the wellbeing of children in every aspect. Children must know their rights as a child and to be encouraged to stand up for themselves. Addressing the issue after it happens is a temporary, band-aid solution. What is more valuable is to look at ways to break cycles of violence and challenge harmful societal values through education that starts from a young age.
As the main facilitator of the sessions in Excel, I am deeply encouraged not just by our students’ responses to the topic, but even more so, their courage to confront generational challenges. It is not easy to navigate through difficult issues like these, but I believe every step counts, and this is just the first step to a longer journey.
I am very grateful for great team members like Jenny, Angelia, and Clarice that I have had the privilege to work with for this project. I am deeply inspired by their hearts for the communities, their patience, and wisdom. My prayer and hope is that these sessions would create meaningful impact in our children and their communities.
Clarice Kan, Social Work Intern (ElShaddai) / Student (Methodist College KL)
This is my first time conducting online sessions, as a social work intern, I am glad that I could join the project of child protection awareness as a facilitator, and to observe and learn from teacher Annabella, as she is gifted to be an educator. I admire her teaching skill and patience.
During the sessions, the students were obedient and interactive. I could feel that from the dynamics of interaction. Undeniably, the Child Protection Project is a good event to raise awareness among the Diaspora community. The challenge is that children are the target group, so the explanation must be articulated clearly with examples given to ensure they could understand the content of child rights. It is not easy to illustrate the types of abuse, for example physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and maltreatment due to child neglect. One way to resolve this challenge is to emphasize the intensity of the abuse, to prevent misunderstandings between children and their parents. Child marriage is a big issue that needs immediate action and legislation to stop it. However, due to obstacles from different factors, the procrastination of enforcement to protect child rights puts more children at risk. Hopefully with the child protection project, children are aware and know their rights to enable them to protect themselves and their friends.
Angelia Gan, Social Work Intern (ElShaddai) / Student (Methodist College KL)
As a social worker intern, this is my first time involved in a refugee community work. Thanks to Annabella who had planned and established most parts of the child protection materials, which help me to gain a clear picture of what this project is about and what the result that we hope to achieve.
I have tried quite a number of new things here, such as designing posters, Kahoot games, and questions for google survey forms etc. I also learned how to design the Child Protection Sessions for different communities based on Anna’s materials. I learned a lot from Anna, especially the way to teach online during the sessions she conducted with the Excel students. As I have no teaching experience, attending the sessions to learn and observe how Anna taught had been a great help to me. I have learned to give tasks to students, invite them to read, and ask them questions and clarify answers with them.. As such the online teaching became interactive and much more effective.
I would also like to thank the task supervisor Ms Jenny. Through her, I was exposed to all these sessions to prepare me for the Child Protection Sessions that I would be conducting for the Afghan Community at Ampang.
These 2 months at ElShaddai have been truly enriching. I wish the NGO will continue its good work and thrive for impacting more lives in the future. May God bless the teams always!.