Prayers, art and sports activities – this is how GNRC-Argentina celebrated the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. To commemorate the anniversary of the Convention, “Plaza de Pilar” was graced with the Rights of the Child, in the midst of a festive atmosphere. Approximately 150 youth of the Global Network of Religions for Children in Argentina participated in the organization of the event, with some 500 attendants at the central “Plaza de Pilar” in Buenos Aires. The location was selected in order to raise awareness in the local population on the importance of the Rights of the Child. The event featured a period of interfaith prayer, and a public celebration with street musicians, theater, music, sports, games and exhibits of creative works on the rights of children. The event also highlighted the actions that participating organizations do for the rights of children.
Preparation for this event began in July with monthly workshops on Education for Peace implemented by GNRC-Argentina, with the participation of young people living in marginal conditions, from different neighborhood and religious organizations in the “La Matanza” and “Pilar” sectors of the city.
An uplifting period of prayer was lead by Monsignor Tomas Llorente Martinez, Vicar-General of the Dioceses (Catholic), and Pastor Juan Gutierrez, Vice-President of the Argentine Federation of Evangelical Churches (Mennonite).
Other organizations which sent prayers to be read were: Salvation Army, Soca Jakasia Buddhist Foundation, Bahá’í Community, Rio de la Plata Evangelical Church, CREAS (Regional Ecumenical Center for Consultancy and Service), CLAI Gender Forum from Guatemala, Word of God Movement (Catholic), Mutual Israelite Association of Argentina, CARITAS Argentina, United Lutheran Church, Ecumenical Movement for Human Rights, Methodist Bishop for Argentina Frank de Nully Brown.
Letters of support came from representatives and directors of UNICEF and the National Ministry of Education’s Social-Educational Program Bureau.
The event attracted the general public to participate freely, expressing their opinions on the advances and shortcomings on the rights of children. This was done through the interactive “Rights Stands” booths, and the “Rights Labyrinth” where a gallery of questions was set up to lead participants to reflection on the issue and express opinions about it.
The recreational part came to life through artistic and sports activities: artistic face-painting, juggling, music, dance, and an open invitation for the public to participate, making for a popular fair-like atmosphere. Attendants participated in games of volley-ball, soccer, tennis, ping-pong, and basketball, all throughout the day.
There was colorful and musical participation of street musicians “Los Peques” and “Angeles Despreciados” from La Matanza sector, gathered under the GNRC banner that read “I build Peace.” They marched to the sound of original songs inspired by the Convention for the Rights of the Child. The public in attendance sang along.
A theater piece was interpreted by the youth, with a strong message against discrimination. This culminated with the song “La Costumbre.”
An innovation at this celebration was a teleconference which took place with other places in the world to be able to visualize the GNRC network that we are part of: Switzerland, El Salvador, Jordan, and Brazil.
There was participation of delegates from different religious communities and institutions, members of local organizations, and public officials, including members of the “Pilar” Local Council.
Three local radio stations had coverage of the celebration.
It is noteworthy that as a result of the implementation and development of the GNRC program, many youth now participate in the Local Council, an institution that is in charge of designing public policy for the promotion of the Rights of the Child.
At “Pilar” the youth who participate in GNRC won a contest as part of the program called “Project for Our Place” sponsored by the Ministry for Social Development. This means that the youth have to go around the neighborhood to carry out activities that have to do with the Rights of the Child.
Likewise, the Drama presented on November 20th,will be repeated on the 11th and 18th of February at the “Chapadmalal” Complex (500 km outside Buenos Aires), where there will be groups of students representing approximately 150 schools from different parts of Argentina, gathered there by the Ministry of Education.