Spreading the word: Much more than child’s play

Volunteers introduce street and commercial theatre projects to promote children’s rights.


Ppi August 20, 2011

SIALKOT:


The Child and Adolescents Protection Project (CAPP) has been showing very encouraging results in Sialkot, after the organization arranged several street performances highlighting the rights of children.


CAPP has been organising interactive theatrical performances on child protection issues under the supervision of UNICEF and in active collaboration with the Child and Social Development Organization (CSDO) in several districts. “Soon enough we will also be collaborating with the child protection bureau (CPB) in this regard,” said CSDO official Ejaz Ahmed.

Ahmed and his colleague Ammara Naseer told reporters that CSDO had been training its own team of children to organize interactive theaters on child protection issues. “Many of the children are students at government schools and some are wards with the CPB. The issues we are hoping to promote are child protection, arguments against child beggary and also to highlight relevant legislation,” Naseer said.

They added that the stage plays and street theatre covered key child protection issues like child labour, under age marriages, sexual abuse, birth registration as well as legislation against employing underage home workers etc. Several local residents have praised the performances they have seen so far. “The main plays have all been at the theatre but the organization also aims to organize street theatre performances on the issue,” Ahmed said.

“The youngsters gave sterling performances and during the performances the CSDO team was fully involved with the community,” said an audience member Mehreen Saifullah. “Children are the best equipped to highlight these issues.

We have several children who have told the audience about their own personal experiences begging on the streets and about the abuse they have suffered. Then we hope to highlight how these issues need to be highlighted by the public and media and how relevant legislation needs to be enforced at every level,” said Ahmed.

“It has been an excellent experience. The trained adolescents and Social Organizers of CSDO are organising theatrical performances at all Talimul Amal centers successfully,” said a CAPP official Pasha Saleem. CAPP workers said that the exercise was helping sensitize thousands of children and community members about the rights of children. “The UNCRC and other NGOs fighting for child rights need the public to get more involved in these issues,” said Pasha.

Local residents said that theatre and the arts provided an excellent tool to sensitize the community regarding issues pertaining to child rights. “Watching these performances has brought to light how often we ignore the plight of children in our society.

We have become immune to the fact that small children are begging in our streets rather than studying in school and we all need to struggle to rescue these children,” said a resident Hadia Qureshi.



Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.

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