Message from the Chairs: Reflection on Year 2011

At this time of year, when many are about to celebrate the birth of a child in a manger and accompany the year of 2011 to its end, it is appropriate to look back at this year from the perspective of A Day of Prayer and Action for Children.  This initiative, generously launched by the Arigatou Foundation, is still in its infancy and yet it seems from year to year to confirm that people of many faiths and of good faith appreciate that which the Day of Prayer and Action for Children stands for: a tool for engagement and commitment. We are looking for ways to manifest that the security and safety of children matters to us. We are looking for possibilities to join others in a common endeavour to provide space for children that they in peace can look to the future without apprehension or fear. 

Violence against children is a reality threatening children in many forms; it manifests itself not only in war and communitarian conflicts; it is shadowing the child in poverty and hunger; it is a devouring danger and threat to children in domestic violence and abuse, in that very space, where they should have been able to feel secure and safe. The theme for 2011 and for the years to come, “STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN,” is conveying the harsh reality for more children than we can imagine. Images and pictures from various walks of life and various situations in the world throw themselves at us.

The responses that the “Day of Prayer and Action for Children” elicit substantiate that we need channels to increase and expand cooperation between various actors in the world involved in safeguarding the rights of the child: religious communities, UN organizations and NGOS.

People throughout the world and in various constellations have increasingly taken upon themselves to respond to the call to celebrate the Day of Prayer and Action for Children. For some it has been a possibility to get together across religious communities to celebrate through prayer and reflection and some kind of common action their concern and commitment. For others it has opened ways ahead in concrete support of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. For yet others, it has enabled religious leaders to launch in unison and with some of the bodies involved in the work for children programs destined to alleviate poverty and ending violence against children.

The centre and network Sarvodaya in Colombo, Sri Lanka is these days the venue for a group of young adults of many faiths from around the world, all involved through the Global Network of Religions for Children, another initiative of the Arigatou Foundation. They have come to craft an action plan for how young people can be concrete in challenging the spectre of poverty in all its aspects. They are inspired by Sarvodaya, which, inspired by Buddhist teachings engages in concrete action for children, malnourished or abandoned, victims of violence due to war and conflict or abuse at home by parents and relatives. But they carried also with them to Colombo their memories and experiences, recorded through videos and slides, of their own celebrations a couple of weeks ago of the Day of Prayer and Action for Children, in places like Belgium, Uganda, India and Argentina. Their witness is convincing enough to affirm that this program has a potential of galvanizing the concerns of people of all ages for the well-being and safety of children.

While we accompany 2011 these last remaining weeks, we are grateful for the response that the Day of Prayer and Action has received throughout the world and we hope that we in 2012 will be able to solidify this enthusiasm towards even greater commitment and support.

Season’s Greetings

Kul Gautam and Hans Ucko

Chairs of The Day of Prayer and Action for Children  

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