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Interfaith Network Advocacy on ECD Matters in Homabay County

Interfaith Network Advocacy on ECD Matters in Homabay County

In 2022 the Homabay Governor, H.E Gladys Wanga, received a memorandum with issues raised by children for the county to address. This is a plus for Homabay County as this is an established deliberate process of child participation in preparation of development plan for children’s voices to count and be incorporated in the government’s decision-making processes. With the governor leading the way on child issues in the county Religious Leaders through the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya supported by Catholic Relief Services through the Strengthening Faith Systems for ECD project, have also followed suit by taking up the mandate to advocate and influence matters of ECD in the county.

The Strengthening Faith Systems for ECD in Homabay County, a project has continuously strengthened the capacity of faith leaders in their understanding and knowledge of Advocacy and positive parenting. These sensitizations have helped them advocate for ECD at their congregations across the sub-counties using a developed handbook which is backed up with scriptural references.

During a visit to Homabay County, the team talked to Mercy Kwamboka, who is an ECD Champion representing the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church who noted that “Religious Leaders sensitized me – I embraced it as I realized we can use the bible to teach young ladies and caregivers on raising children 3 years and below.”

The young mothers who had been sensitized can approach other young mothers in the community and inform them about the NCfECD.

“We were able to identify young mothers who had stopped taking care of their children as pertains the 5 components. We mobilized these mothers and guided them including taking them to clinics and linked them with other organizations in the County who have been able to support them in starting kitchen gardens.” – Mercy Kwamboka

The Religious Leaders through the project have created synergies by collaborating with different agencies in the county such as the Directorate of Children Services, the Office of the Governor, the Ministry of Health and the Media. IRCK, in close collaboration with the Directorate of Children Services, has been holding training sessions for clergy, women of faith and the youth who have become ECD Champions. The training focuses on key legal instruments regarding child protection, including the Children’s Act 2022 and the Sexual Offences Act 2006. These trainings have equipped them with the necessary skills and knowledge to protect children, uphold their rights, and understand their responsibilities as religious leaders. 

Charles Awino, who is the Director of Children Services in Homabay elaborated on how his office has been engaging with the religious leaders, “We have been training Religious Leaders in Homabay County on overview of the revised Children Act 2022 – these are pertinent laws as this will also see that they are empowered as they are the first encounters. This will also enable them to be initiators of case management at their level before referring the cases to the relevant authorities for further management.”

“These sessions highlighted the influential role of religious leaders and faith-based organizations in advocating for children’s rights. Through discussions and explanations, we were able to gain a better understanding of the Children Act 2022 and debunked myths surrounding child-related laws. We also got to learn about our role in supporting children and families within the legal boundaries.” – Omunga Julius, Secretary of the Homabay Interfaith Network.

These trainings introduced child protection as a systemic approach requiring collective effort from all stakeholders. It emphasized the need for religious leaders to identify risks for children and families in their communities and develop preventive and responsive strategies.

Phenny Oracha, who is an SDA representative noted that “The project allows us to meet our congregants and be able to train them on the Nurturing Care Framework. They have embraced the 5 components. They are addressing the challenges of raising children as a family, in fact, nowadays even men are involved in raising their children. On the Adequate Nutrition component, we encouraged the caregivers especially the young mothers to start kitchen gardens, the mothers to eat balanced diets and ensure their children are being immunized.”

“It is important to train Religious Leaders and other stakeholders for us to pull synergies on child protection. We also can pull our resources together to address the welfare of the children in Homabay County. We need to collaborate so that we can work towards achieving one goal for the best interest of the children of Homabay.”

–  Charles Awino

Further collaboration is encouraged between the Religious Leaders and the government at the National and the County government. The DCS addressed the benefits of the synergy with the interfaith community.

“It is important to train Religious Leaders and other stakeholders for us to pull synergies on child protection. We also can pull our resources together to address the welfare of the children in Homabay County. We need to collaborate so that we can work towards achieving one goal for the best interest of the children of Homabay.” –  Charles Awino

The Religious Leaders as ECD champions in Homabay County have been able to map out communities in the sub-counties and held sensitizations on the nurturing Care Framework of ECD. 

“As faith leaders, we will continue monitoring our congregants to ensure that they are adhering to the 5 components.” – Phenny Oracha

The religious leaders stay committed to advocating ECD and laud the advocacy efforts together with the Children’s Department in enhancing key messaging on child protection in line with the nurturing care framework across the county with the help of the media teams.

By Mary Ndulili.

Previous Interfaith Youth Advocacy On Early Childhood Development In Homabay County

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