With Rohey Jadama
Welcome to yet another edition of Children’s Corner. In today’s edition, we are featuring the interview we had with Ms. Fatoumatta Baldeh, a Child Rights activist who is also the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Ofiicer of United Guardian Youth for Development (UGYD).
She will be talking about her engagements in promoting child rights and the challenges children face in her community.
Children’s Corner: Could you kindly give a brief personal background about yourself to our esteemed readers?
- Baldeh:I am Fatoumatta Baldeh, an 18 year old who attended Gambia High School and graduated as a science student in May 2014. I intend to study Nursing and Health Care as a career. I am currently working with two organisations, namely the Voice of the Young and the United Guardian Youth for Development (UGYD). I have been a member of the Voice of the Young for 6 years now and have served as the Secretary General twice in its Executive. I am currently the IEC officer of UGYD. UGYD is an organization focusing mainly on guidance and counseling of young people. Voice of the Young, on the other hand, focuses on child rights.
Children’s Corner: You are engaged in promoting child rights. Can you tell the readers what motives you to be involved in this endeavour?
- Baldeh:I was motivated by one of my colleagues, in the person of Jainaba Bah, who encouraged me to dedicate myself to highlighting and addressing issues the affects children in our society and which people are keep silent about or unaware of.
People have to stop the culture of silence and the perpetrators who abuse children need to be held accountable. We are promoting the protection of children’s rights. This is why I have dedicated myself to serving to promoting and defending the rights of children.
Children’s Corner: Moving on to another key dimension, what are some of the challenges that children face in the community.
- Baldeh: One of the challenges being faced by children is that they are always afraid to speak up regarding their problems. We are aare of rape cases in which the perpetrators are not pursued because they are relatives and parents are silent about it as they do not want anything to breakup their families. These are some of the issues that one can take up with the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) to address.
Another constraint faced by children is the ‘Daras’ where they are enrolled to learn religious education but they instead engage in begging for alms in the streets. These children do suffer a lot as they are also maltreated by their wards.
Children’s Corner: Finally, what plans do you envisage to undertake in your advocacy work?
- Baldeh:My main aim, as at now, is to sensitise the community on what child rights are really about since many people have the misconception that this issue is an idea for the countries in the West. We believe that every child has the right to eat; the right to be loved and cared for; the right to a healthy environment; and these are not western ideas but basic human rights. Child rights simply mean a legal entitlement given to a person below the age of 18 years. But most of our parents misinterpret it and always have in mind that their children are copying Western lifestyle and behaviour. I initially had problems with my parents but, thank God, I was eventually able to convince them. I have now got their full support in my advocacy work.
Children’s Corner: Thank you for granting us an interview.
- Baldeh:You are most welcome