Running for Child Labour Free Zones in Uganda

On Saturday 30th November the streets of Rakai district, Uganda, were a site for history in the making as they witnessed a marathon for the first time under the theme; “Running to support Child Labour Free Zone in Rakai District.

It was a successful crowd – pulling tool which attracted 300 direct participants and drew a very big crowd estimated at 4,000 people that were along the 15 kilometer marathon-race- course. The marathon was unique and designed to take care of people of different abilities ranging from the very old people, the youth and children. Five flag off points were arranged at different centers giving opportunities to community members in those particular centers to participate and listen to the message on the need to stop child labour and take their children to school.  Partner Civil Society Organizations joined the campaign and managed different flagging off points and helped to engage the public with child rights messages using placards and posters.  Speeches from important people were made to the gatherings at 5 flagging off points. A mega rally crowned the event at Kasambya play ground where a number of statements were read to the crowds and gifts awarded to the best 2 runners in each category.

The Marathon successfully met its objectives of socially mobilizing the parents, children and government officials   to appreciate and support the concept of Child Labour Free Zone in Rakai district, creating awareness among the communities about the concept of Child Labour Free Zones and sharing  the achievements of the Omar’s Dream project so far registered.

Partnering with other organizations in the district like Compassion international, World Vision, Child Development Centre (CDC), Children of Uganda, KIN and UNATU was a great opportunity of creating a forum to advocate and sensitize communities to create a safe environment in homes and schools so as to enable children to go to school.   Using, edutainment method at each of the flag off points such as poems and songs played a great role in emphasizing the need to educate children and to protect them from child labour. The speakers at each of the flag off points challenged the crowd to mention one important treasure a dying parent can pass on to his children other than education. The debate ensued with the moving microphone that was given to whoever had a view worth sharing.  By the flagging off time, the consensus had been reached that education was the unleveled treasure.

The guest of honor the secretary of children in Rakai District underscored the value added by the project to government’s efforts directed towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 2 of “Achieving universal primary education” and Goal 3 of “Promoting gender equality and empowering women a gate way to eradicating child labor.”  He committed to work with ANPPCAN and other government officials to ensure that a child labour free zone is created not only in the two parishes but in the entire district by putting in place a bylaw to prosecute parents who do not want to take their children to school.

ANPPCAN Executive Director who also graced the occasion emphasized that they will work with the government and all the partners including the communities to ensure that a child labour free zone is created successfully in the two Parishes.