Lloyd McCormick, director of youth programs at ChildFund, will speak at the 2013 Women, War & Peace conference at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. The conference will take place this weekend.
The title of his talk, scheduled on Saturday afternoon, is “Livelihoods and Economic Recovery in War-Affected Environments – Lessons Learned from Sierra Leone, Northern Uganda and Liberia.”
The two-day conference will focus on women’s roles in war and peace building in West and North Africa and how these issues can be transformed into opportunities for social and economic well-being.
The conference grew out of a partnership among VCU, the Richmond Peace Education Center, Virginia Friends of Mali and the Richmond Sister Cities Commission, all of which work to highlight Virginia’s links with West Africa and to promote collaboration among the schools, universities, organizations and community groups working in the field of human development.
The conference will present films on women, war and peace; research on Africa with a focus on Mali; and opportunities for academic, professional and community development. If you are in the Richmond area, consider volunteering with ChildFund. We’ll be on-site both days of the conference, Sept. 20 and 21. For more information, email Kate Nare.
Today, as people around the world celebrate the 2012 International Day of Peace, ChildFund Afghanistan’s national director, Palwasha Hassan, reflects on the importance of caring for children during wartime.
War turns everyone’s life upside down, but none more so than a child’s. At ChildFund International, we strive to create environments in Afghanistan where children can learn, play and grow. We want them to have a safe, stable, normal childhood and to grow up in communities where they can become leaders of positive, enduring change that will help bring peace and security to the country.
Children in Afghanistan currently face many issues that impact their future. The mortality rates of infants, children under 5 and mothers are among the world’s highest. Stunted growth due to malnutrition affects more than half of our children. Much of the country’s population lacks access to safe drinking water, which leads to diseases that threaten public health. Child marriage and child labor are particularly prevalent. The life expectancy in Afghanistan is 48 years, compared to 78 in the U.S. Only one in five girls aged 15-24 can read and write.
ChildFund International understands the plight of Afghan children. We are working in this country to help fight these problems so that children can have a brighter future. We’ve trained parents, community leaders and government staff to recognize child protection issues; we’ve supported community-based literacy classes for children and trained their teachers. We’ve provided children with recreational areas in which to play, and we’ve developed health services that include training health workers in how to diagnose and treat illnesses. We’ve helped returnee families rebuild their lives. All told, we have assisted more than half a million children and family members with the support they need to take greater control of their lives and their future.
While many news reports focus on war, we must not forget about the children there. It is time for them to get back on their feet and move in a positive direction. It is the children who will determine Afghanistan’s future.
The International Day of Peace, observed each year on Sept. 21, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence.
Although war wreaks havoc on the lives of all in its path, children often suffer the most. Many lose parents and caregivers. Others lose their sense of security as critical routines such as school and playtime are disrupted.
Recently ChildFund talked with children and youth in our programs in Afghanistan about their daily lives, their fears and their dreams. Here’s what they had to say:
by Julien Anseau, Regional Communications Manager, ChildFund Asia
Tomorrow, Sept. 18, Afghanistan holds elections for its lower house of parliament. More than 2,500 candidates are vying for 249 elected seats. Security concerns are high, and many Afghans live in areas deemed too dangerous to set up polling places.
No ready solution appears in sight for a county long mired in conflict. “War turns everyone’s lives upside down, but none more so than children,” says Anna Maria Locsin, ChildFund’s national director of Afghanistan.
“We want children to have a safe, stable, normal childhood and to grow up in communities where they can become leaders of positive, enduring change that will help bring peace and security to the country,” she notes.
ChildFund has worked in Afghanistan since 2001, reaching more than 150 communities in the northeastern provinces of Badakshan, Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar.
Consider these sobering statistics:
ChildFund is working in Afghanistan to help fight these problems so that children will have a brighter future. “Our programs prioritize the community-led provision of health, education, and livelihood opportunities while strengthening the protective environment for children,” says Locsin.
Ultimately, it is the children who will determine Afghanistan’s future.