By Khazike Sakala
The ZGF’s pilot project on growing social accountability in Muchinga has yielded an extraordinary collaboration between senior Chief Nkula of Chinsali District and God Visits Orphans (GVO), a community based organisation that received our Imbuto grant. This special relationship has been formed to curb rampant vices such as child labour, child abuse and child marriages in Nkula chiefdom.
In complementing GVOs efforts to end child labour and child marriages in his chiefdom, Senior Chief Nkula introduced ‘Royal Child Protection Committees’ in schools to deal with challenges facing children.
To strengthen the committees, Chief Nkula conducts annual visits at every school to hear and address challenges pertaining child rights protection. The annual visits bring parents, teachers and children together in one forum creating a platform that allows all the parties to express themselves.
“It is so interesting to see how the children and the parents are able to speak openly and freely about the problems they experience every day and together, we are able to find solutions and move forward”, said Chief Nkula.
The Chief encourages community involvement, ownership and participation, mobilising local resources to facilitate for the construction of a community training centre that will double as a community nursery and pre-school.
“I bought roofing sheets and the community came in to contribute building blocks. Together we built the community training centre that is being used for Royal Child Protection and Gender Based Violence committee meetings. It also serves as a pre-school and nursery for the children in the community” Chief Nkula added.
Following the construction of the training centre, the Chief approached the District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) office which was supportive in providing a teacher for this community school. However what still remains is the provision of accommodation for the allocated teacher. Chief Nkula is also currently in the process of developing a subject to be offered called “Child Rights” which he will introduce to the community school and hopes that in the near future, the subject could also be incorporated into the government school curriculum. The subject content will have sketches and drama performances that could be used as a teaching aid for better understanding by the children.
Additionally, the senior Chief is conducting research on child labour. The research addresses the pertinent question of what kind of work, loads or weights translate into child abuse or child labour. The results from this research will inform a book he is writing on how to defend children’s rights titled “Imiti ikula empanga” to be published in late 2017.
Chief Nkula appreciates the crucial role being played by ZGF and its partner GVO in protecting the rights of children in his chiefdom. He vows to continue to teach his community to take the lead in bringing about development as opposed to waiting for external partners while doing nothing about issues that affect them.
“I want my subjects to know how to fish instead of merely giving them the fish. As a community, we should at least start something, then others will be able to come in because they have something to work with” he concluded.