|Child centered spaces provide protection and psychosocial support to children who have been affected by emergencies. These spaces provide children with structured, regular activities. |
On March 1, Kathleen Kostelny, Child Protection Consultant working with Christian Children's Fund, met with child activity leaders and representatives from Unyama Camp, in Gulu, Northern Uganda. The purpose of the visit was to share with the community the results of the research on the camps’ child centered spaces (CCSs).
CCSs provide protection and psychosocial support to children who have been affected by emergencies. These spaces provide children with structured, regular activities. The study found that children participating in CCSs had fewer protection risks, improved psychosocial well-being, increased pro-social behavior, and increased life skills compared to children in a community who did not attend a CCS. The community was pleased to receive this positive feedback.
As one community member stated, “Other people have come in and asked us many questions in the past, but they never return. They do not give us the information they have collected. We are very happy that CCF has remembered us and come back to give us information.”
The community took over operation of the CCSs at the end of April 2007. A key community resource member mobilized the community and recruited volunteers to help run the centers. The community reported that the main protection risks to which children had been exposed prior to the CCSs (rapes, house fires, road accidents, etc.) have been and continue to be reduced. However, issues still remain: a shortage of supplies, lack of food at the CCSs for children; and a need for activity leaders to receive additional training on child protection issues.
The community took the opportunity of this March meeting to begin discussing ways of addressing these issues, including engaging additional community members to help with activities at the CCSs. The group also discussed ways to engage the community in cultivating a garden which would supply cassava and vegetables to CCSs for meals for the children.
In addition, a community member who had been a child protection worker with CCF in the past, volunteered to provide additional child protection training for the child activity leaders. The community was enthusiastic about moving forward with these plans to strengthen the CCSs in the coming months.
This visit to Unyama camp reinforced how important it is for community members to receive feedback about assessments and research studies that are conducted in their communities. One of the child activity leaders stated, “We are very happy to hear that the CCSs are contributing to our children’s happiness and well-being. This information will motivate us even more to work hard for our children.”