On 6th and 7th May 2019 GNRC members in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) organised the annual meeting of the coordinating committee of the Alliance for the Protection of Children in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. A total of twenty five (25) participants attended the event. The President of the Movement, Loida Carriel, was also in attendance.
The Hosting Committee of the Alliance for the Protection of Children made up of CBC-Honduras, Cáritas-Honduras and World Vision-Honduras, and coordinated by Javier Rodríguez of CBC Honduras. Cáritas Honduras managed the resources of Arigatou International for the event. The meeting was an opportunity to evaluate the work of the Alliance during its first year, in the areas of violence prevention, response to victims of violence, advocacy, and research and knowledge management. The meeting also reviewed the action plan for the year 2019–2020.
The Alliance was created in the framework of the GNRC 5th Forum held in Panama in May 2017 as a concrete contribution to the implementation of the Panama Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Children. The main objective of the Alliance is to protect children from violence, gangs and organized crime, through the collective work of faith-based organizations in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
In the area of response to child victims of violence, the Alliance aims to strengthen the protective role of faith-based communities and organizations in the sub-region, specifically for children victims of violence, gangs and organized crime. To this end, one of the main achievements this year was the elaboration of a directory of services and programs for children and adolescents victims of violence available in the four countries.
At national level, the National Committee in Mexico responded to the humanitarian emergency of the Migrant Caravans that are moving from Central America to the US (through Mexico), by distributing first aid kits to families and by setting up child-friendly spaces in the city of Tijuana. These actions were organized in the months of November and December, in the framework of the celebrations of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.
This year, the Alliance will work to strengthen the capacities of faith-based organizations on child protection issues. A series of webinars will be held, including one on the protection of children on the move, one on the importance of institutional child safeguarding policies and one on the spiritual support to children victims of violence. Face-to-face capacity building workshops will be held in Guatemala and El Salvador.
With regards to advocacy, the Alliance will continue working in the three thematic priorities defined last year to increase investment in child protection policies, to protect children on the move and to prohibit by law the physical and humiliating punishment of children in all contexts. This year, the Alliance participated in key advocacy events both at national and global level, including the Faith Action for Children on the Move Global Partners’ Forum, that took place in Rome in October 2018 and was able to position the Alliance and disseminate its policy recommendations.
During the meeting a brainstorming exercise was carried out to identify religious leaders in the region that could act as spokespersons on behalf of the Alliance, for each thematic advocacy priority. The group plans to contact them in the coming months. Participants also mapped out the key advocacy opportunities that exist this year, including the many initiatives that will take place in the framework of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Alliance will continue to influence local, national and sub-regional policies that contribute to the prevention of violence and the protection of children and adolescents, especially against gangs and organized crime.
In the area of violence prevention, one of the major achievements this year was the development of a Guide on the prevention of violence to be used as reference by member organizations. During the meeting, members reviewed the first draft and defined the next steps to complete the document. This year the Alliance will design and mobilize resources for a sub-regional pilot program for the prevention of violence to be implemented by members in the four countries of the region.
Members of the Coordinating Committee included:
- Silvia Mazzarelli – GNRC Coordinator for LAC, Arigatou International (coordinator of the Alliance)
- Mercedes Román – GNRC-LAC, Arigatou International
- María Alejandra Andrade – Tearfund
- Santiago Benitez – Tearfund Honduras
- Victoria Racancoj – Marist Foundation, Coordinator of the National Committee in Guatemala (2018-2019)
- Nidia Ixcoy, JOC – Coordinator of the National Committee in Guatemala (2019-2020)
- Diana García – Anglican Church, Coordinator of the National Comittee in Mexico
- Edgar Vallecillo – Scalabrinian, Member of the National Committee in El Salvador
- Jean Paul Ortiz – World Vision
- Walberto Tejeda – Centro Bartolomé de las Casas
- Andrea Flores – Centro Bartolomé de las Casas
- Mons. Guy Charbonneau – CELAM