World Day of Prayer and Action for Children 2013Interfaith Breakfast“…With the Commitment to Promote Values and Positive Parenting”Leer en Castellano…FINAL REPORTReligious Leaders Get Together to Fight Violence against ChildrenSANTO DOMINGO.- About 60 leaders from different religious and spiritual denominations and other representatives of faith-based organizations, gathered in the Dominican Republic on November 20, to celebrate the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, on the occasion of the International Day of the Child, and to reaffirm their commitment to the comprehensive protection of children and adolescents living in the country, on the premise that violence against children is an unacceptable reality and that religious leaders have a moral and spiritual responsibility to promote concrete actions to prevent and respond to violence against children, protecting the respect for human dignity.
The event was attended by the General Manager of the National Council for Children and Adolescence (CONANI), Ms. Tilza Ares, and by representatives of UNICEF. It also had the coverage of 13 mass media.
The interfaith meeting, organized by the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and the NGO Coalition for Children, was held at the Ambassador Hotel from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.., under the slogan “… With the Commitment to Promote Positive Parenting and Values.”
The interfaith breakfast began with the welcoming words of the Coordinator of the NGO Coalition for Children (Espín Dicent). The NGO Coalition for Children is a network that brings together 32 civil society organizations engaged in the promotion and protection of child rights. The event followed with the words of Eduardo Gallardo, UNICEF protection specialist, who celebrated this interfaith initiative for children.
Then, the participants enjoyed a moment of music by Manny Rosado, a dominican young singer who sang the song “Peace will return.”.
The central part of the breakfast was dedicated to the presentation to the leaders, of the general content of the National Roadmap on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Children, that CONANI, together with the civil society and some of the UN agencies has been developing in the course of 2013, following the commitments made by the country at international level for the implementation of the Recommendations of the UN Global Study on Violence against Children. The National Roadmap will be officially launched in the country in the coming months. In the first part of the session, Alberto Padilla, Public Policies Manager of CONANI, presented the process and the basic content of the Roadmap. Then Silvia Mazzarelli, GNRC Coordinator in the Dominican Republic, spoke about the efforts of the GNRC to strengthen partnerships between sectors of society that can have a significant impact on the lives of the children. In this context, Ms. Mazzarelli identified specific areas where religious / spiritual leaders can play a key role in the achievement of the objectives and results of the National Roadmap for the Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Children..
During the event a video was also launched. In the video, 10 leaders of the country, belonging to the Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Hindu, Muslim, and Baha’i religions and to the Brahma Kumaris and International Society of Divine Realization spiritual traditions, answered to five questions on the subject of child protection, and made public their commitment to protect children through positive parenting and the promotion of non-violent values. The leaders that were interviewed stressed the importance of ethics and spiritual education as a means to reduce violence against children.
The video is available at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YniMn8dtljM
The last part of the event was dedicated to the presentation of good experiences, through the testimony of two young teenagers belonging to the group C +, of the Province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez, in the Northen part of the Dominican Republic. The adolescents shared with the audience their experience during the ethics education workshops on the “Learning to Live Together” program, that some members of the GNRC began implementing in March 2013 with a group of 35 adolescents, with the goal of promoting a culture of respect, mutual understanding, empathy, responsibility and peace. In the coming months the ethics education program will be extended to parents, and other community members.
The closing of the interfaith breakfast was the Interfaith Prayer for the Good Treatment of Children and Adolescents drafted by the GNRC in the Dominican Republic in 2011.
Among the faith based organizations that atended the event we mention: The Dominican Council for Evangelical Unity, the LatinAmerican Council of Churches, the Episcopal Church, the National Council of Churches, the Social Service of Churches, the Church of God, World Vision, the Baptist Church, The Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church, The Pastoral of Children, the Youth Pastoral, Caritas, The Salesians, Catholic Relief Services, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints, The Islamic Centre, the Jewish Centre, the Bahá’í faith, the Dominican Association of Reiki, the International Society of Divine Realization, the Brahma Kumaris Organization and the Hindu Community.
The interfaith breakfast was part of the initiatives that the GNRC and the NGO Coalition for Children have been promoting since 2011, to engage the religious and spiritual sector in advocacy actions for children:
• In 2011, during the Central America meeting for the follow-up to the recommendations of the UN Study on Violence against Children, that was held in Santo Domingo, an Interfaith Declaration was handled to the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children (Ms. Marta Santos Pais) and to the General Manager of CONANI. The Interfaith Declaration was signed by religious and spiritual leaders of the country, during the DPAC celebration.
• In 2012, during the first interfaith breakfast, Alberto Padilla from CONANI presented to the religious
leaders the process that was beginning in the country for the elaboration of the National Roadmap for the follow-up to the first recommendation of the UN Study on Violence against Children. He also invited the leaders to participate in the consultations that were going to take place throughout the country. During the event a video was presented (http://youtu.be/bLJ1E_Ro_hM), in which children belonging to different religions shared their concerns about the violence they experience in their everyday lives and asked their religious leaders for support to prevent and eliminate violence against children.
For more information, www.gnrc.net; www.dayofprayerandaction.org www.coalicioninfanciard.org
Report by: Silvia Mazzarelli, Coordinator GNRC Dominican Republic email@example.com