After more than two weeks of spirited campaigning to end violence against women and children, Good Shepherd Services (GSS) marks the end by celebrating International Human Rights Day on December 10.
This year’s Human Rights Day theme of Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today brings a timely closure to our 16-day Orange the World campaign, which focused on advocating for the rights of defenceless children.
Over the past three weeks, GSS staff and volunteers from the states of Perak, Selangor, and Sabah conducted a variety of programmes to educate both the young and old on what constitutes child abuse and how it can be prevented. It is estimated that our message of ending violence against children reached some three thousand people.
Here is a snapshot of what happened throughout this campaign:
Summit USJ Mall
Close to 500 people took part in our campaign to raise awareness to end violence against children at the Summit USJ Mall on November 20. The campaign, held in conjunction with Universal Children’s Day celebrations, was hosted by Member of Parliament and Selangor State Speaker Hannah Yeoh. In Ms Yeoh’s speech, she urged adults to speak up for voiceless children, and to inform authorities should they suspect any incidence of child abuse. As part of the campaign to raise awareness on Orange the World, children and their parents used their creativity to decorate oranges and took photos with their work of art. They were then encouraged to share their photos on social media so as to spread the word to their friends and family.
Stella Maris Primary School
We were privileged to hold our Orange the World campaign with 372 students and staff of Stella Maris Primary School, Ampang. Our campaign was held on November 25, which was also the last day of their school term. The campaign was held in conjunction with the school’s Children’s Day celebration. During this campaign, students were made aware of the differences between good, bad, and confusing touches, and to say no or seek help when experiencing bad or confusing touches. The students showed active participation on the subject matter and responded appropriately on how to keep themselves safe. The teachers and parents who were present at the event were grateful for the message as they found it a challenge to talk about these issues with the children. We ended the event by distributing gift packs with one orange, one printed bookmark of the core values of our organisation, and one Orange the World campaign leaflet to each student and staff of Stella Maris Primary School, Ampang. We hope that our small step in educating the students will help our children to stay safe and protected.
Church of Our Lady of Fatima
A talk was held at Our Lady of Fatima church in Brickfields on 4 December. Some 20 people (e.g counsellors, parents, Sunday school teachers, and from women’s desk) who were involved in working with children or who would like to learn more about the issue of child grooming attended this session. The talk was to raise awareness about child grooming, in both the real and virtual worlds, and what adults could do to keep children safe from such predators. The participants were also called to advocate in their own way, within their circle of influence, for the safety and protection of children. The participants were passionate about the cause and about wanting to do more to ensure that the children under their care were safe and protected from violence. The flyers were distributed at the end of the talk.
GSS Ipoh started off the 16 Days of Non-Violence Against Women and Girls with the Training of Trainers for a group of 13 students from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) on October 25 and 27. Following the sessions, the UTAR students conducted the sessions on child sexual abuse with three groups of children with whom our outreach team is currently working, including a group at Sungei Siput. About 80 children participated in these sessions. In view of the school holidays sessions for children and teenagers attending catechism classes at St. Michael’s, Our Lady of Lourdes Parishes were conducted earlier. There was also a session for Sunday School children at Wesley Methodist, in which a total of 980 children participated. Between November 25 and December 10, our campaign will reach the parishioners of St Michael’s, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Mother of Perpetual Help and Sacred Heart Church Kampar. There will be a short video presentation and giving out orange ribbons. Leaflets containing information about the campaign and helplines of the GSS in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Sabah will also be given out.
The 16 Days Campaign of Non-Violence against Women and Children was carried out in various places in Sabah including Sandakan, Kiulu, Menggatal, Tulid, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, and Kota Belud. While the campaign for this year focused on the issue of violence towards children, the target audience were mostly adults, as they are the ones responsible for the protection and safety of children. The campaign started on November 23 in Sandakan with the St Benedict BEC in Taman Merak. Throughout the campaign, teachers and community members from various villages, church communities, colleges, and universities were given information on the types and signs of violence, support systems for the children and also ways to report violence. The GSS Sabah team reached about 800 people during the campaign, with much positive feedback from the public including invitations for us to bring this programme to other events. Most of the people we reached out to did not realise what violence towards children really meant and were unaware that it was a problem in their community. Overall, the 16 Days Campaign was a vibrant one with many people from different backgrounds involved. Through the campaign, we hope that it will empower the people to act, to understand and uphold the rights of children, and also to make a difference in their communities to build a better and safer world for all children.