Posted on June 15, 2018
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…. ACT celebrates the International Day of the African Child
The survival instincts and the indomitable spirit of the African Child is remarkable. It is unique and, perhaps, incomparable with children in the other parts of the world. It is not a matter of whether they are born in the rich suburb of an affluent African city or the darkest slum. The African child born and bred on the continent is a survivor, with a resilient spirit able to withstand adversity. To be born in Africa, is to be confronted with the realities of poverty from an early age. It is particularly so for those who are born disadvantaged or through life’s turns have become disadvantaged. Poverty is everywhere and even the blind can sense it.
“I will survive…I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give, I’ll survive.”
Part of the lyrics of the song by Gloria Gaynor is apt and speaks to the story of the African child.
There is generalisation, but the uncountable ‘rag to riches’ stories of Africans who overcame childhood adversity and went on to achieve great success in their lives are testimonies that support the resilience of the African child. Many reasons can be advanced for this underlying resilience, but as we celebrate the International Day of the African child, we cannot but remember the recent pictures on our TV and the stories in news media about African children, some barely in their teenage years, fleeing poverty in their countries and braving it across the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea, to get to Europe. They are doing so at great risk and danger to escape poverty and start a new life. It is a testimony to the driving spirit of the African Child to survive.
If you ask them why they decide to take such high risk, they will tell you of their hope to make it in life, a part of which is to be able to support their families back home. Many of those who have been able to cross into Europe and have been able to find work do indeed send back money to help their families. This is another attribute of the African child, a desire to give back to their community. They are brought up to recognise that they are part of a community and not just an individual. There is an African proverb which says, “It takes a whole village to raise a child”.
There are of course downsides. The drive for a breakthrough and the desire to give back to those they left back home can lead to detrimental decisions. Take the many Nigerian girls finding themselves working as prostitutes across a number of European cities in the goal to earn a living and make it in life. This of course is modern day slavery at its worst. Poverty is the driver and it is endemic across Africa. This is why the African child, even with their resilience, still can do with a helping hand. But hope is not lost because for the African child the song remains true, “I will survive”.
Constantin in Burkina Faso survived. He grew up an orphan in very difficult conditions. He lost his mother as a child and did not know his father who died when he was only a baby. He is now Director of Child Hope, a charity he founded about twenty years ago that has partnered with ACT to educate disadvantaged children and orphans in Burkina Faso since 2001. Their new orphanage in Tintilou, about 50 kilometres from the capital Ouagadougou, is possibly the best care and educational facility for orphans and disadvantaged children in that country.
Through the partnership with ACT, David Ghoule, Elodie Yacine and hundreds more orphans with similar disadvantaged background in Burkina Faso are now educated with university degrees. They have scaled the poverty bar and are contributing to the development of their communities and their nation.
It is this same resilience, the will to survive, that brought through Elijah (Bush) Kwibika in Namayinga, Uganda and transformed his life. He was orphaned at the age of 9 years and was left on his own to make his way through life, living in the bush, hence his nickname. Elijah is now studying for a degree in theology and will graduate in 2019. He is one among hundreds of other disadvantaged children in Uganda that ACT has helped to survive.
There are several thousand similar stories of resilience of the African child in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, DR Congo and Nigeria that have survived, with support from our work. They have achieved breakthrough due to their resilience because of their will to survive. The African child is a story of the wonderful spirit of faith, underpinned by hope and the love of many people who each stretched out a hand to help. Yes, it is faith, hope and love.
You also can make a difference. You can help us reach many more disadvantaged children in Africa by supporting our work and donating all you can – a little goes a long way. To find out more about the ACT child sponsorship programme, click here.