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Protective environments for children on the move
Detail: A high level meeting on the theme: Protecting Children on the Move was organized by the International Social Service (ISS) Swiss Foundation in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare in the Gambia.

In her statement, Fatim Badjie, the Minister Health and Social Welfare, said "creating a child friendly environment requires building and strengthening a protective environment, where laws are enacted and implemented, governments and duty bearers are committed to children to empower them with knowledge and life skills to protect them selves, and attitudes, customs and traditions are favorable to children's rights and also the media reports to encourage healthy debate on issues affecting children in our society."

She said children are the most vital component or group and that their future and well being depend on the kind of treatment, care and support they received during their childhood.

Mrs. Fanta Bai Secka, Director of Social Welfare, in her remark, said the task of ensuring a better future for vulnerable children, especially those on the move and on the street in the country, is profound, particularly if they take into account the devastating risks that the children are exposed to while on the move with parental care. "Investing in the protection of children is of national interest," she said.

Delivering the vote of thanks, Abubacarr Jallow, a Social Welfare sponsored student, said he is 13 years old and currently attending Grade 8 at the Latrikunda Upper Basic School. He said he became a street child loitering and wandering about in the street as a result of his parent's inability to enroll him in school due to poverty. Abubacarr said at first he thought being a street child was normal until he came in contact with Social workers during their street outreach at the Tallinding car park, where he was just running after cars as a young apprentice and was offered counseling by the social workers through which he began to realize the dangers that he was exposed to while in the street.

Abubacarr said they assured him of their help and he decided to walk with them to the Drop-in center. He said he was enrolled in the school through the intervention of Social Welfare Department and that it is a dream which could not have come true without their valuable help and support.

Conclusion, Abubacarr said he would like to appeal on behalf of his fellow children for more support and funding and a continuation of the project so that other unfortunate children on the streets, car parks, markets and beaches, both within the Gambia and beyond are protected and given the opportunity that he has been afforded.
Source: Africa News, June 13, 2011 Monday
Date: October 6 2011