Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Meeting Former Sponsored Child Misozi

By Sarah A. Roush, program associate for CCF

One of the most energizing events that I attended this week was “Addressing the Gap: Commitments, Funding and Youth Engagement.” In this session, a panel of youth and adult allies discussed the advances that have been made to meaningfully engage youth in HIV programs and at the International AIDS Conference, as well as ways to improve efforts to reach out to young people.

Contributing to the panel was Misozi, a young women who is active in CCF’s programs in Zambia. Misozi is 20 and has been a sponsored child since 1999. She is currently the outgoing president of the Children’s Committee of Kafue Central Project and the spokesperson for the Global Movement for Children. Misozi used this opportunity at the panel to speak about the cultural barriers to youth participation and the need for education and skills training to ensure that youth voices are heard.

She spoke from personal experience, describing successful campaigns that she and the Children’s Committee have carried out, such as engaging with police and traditional leaders to improve enforcement of laws against child sexual abuse. As president of the committee, Misozi oversees efforts to assist vulnerable children in Zambia through outreach and education on issues such as child rights.

Misozi told me about how she benefited from these programs when she first joined the Committee in 2005. She had a difficult time after her parents’ divorce when she was 10, and experienced neglect and mistreatment at home. CCF supported her with school fees, books and tutoring, but it wasn’t until she was trained on child rights through the committee that she was able to open up and talk about her situation with her peers. The committee provided a safe space for her to express herself, and as president she has worked to ensure that other children and youth have access to this supportive environment as well.

Today, Misozi is working as a researcher on the well being of children in Kafue District with Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative and continues to engage with the Children’s Committee. She plans on holding workshops for children, youth and CCF staff on the information that she gained at the International AIDS Conference. She hopes to start attending college next year, studying community development.

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