Stories

Move over, Avengers. The world has a new band of super heroes and they operate out of a small village on Myanmar’s border with Thailand.

Zay and his friends have formed a ChildFund-supported group called the Super Heroes, whose role is to promote children’s rights and help protect children in their village.

“We chose that name because we are the super heroes to protect our village,” says 13-year-old, Zay.

Groups like the Super Heroes are part of a three-year child protection project in Dawei that aims to strengthen community-based child protection systems.

Myanmar has significantly high rates of violence against children. Zarni, who oversees the child protection project in Dawei, says much of this stems from a lack of awareness about children’s rights.

“Physical abuse is prevalent in Dawei,” Zarni says.

“The main reason behind the problem is awareness. There are two parts. The caregivers don’t have the awareness and the children themselves don’t have the awareness.”

The project aims to increase community understanding by conducting sessions about children’s rights and child protection, delivering pamphlets, and setting up posters and billboards.

ChildFund also provides communities with a list of relevant child protection service providers so people know who to contact when they witness or experience violence or abuse.

“It’s effective,” Zarni says. “There are more informants than before. And there are more identified child cases than before.”

In order to strengthen these community-based child protection mechanisms, Child Protection Groups (CPG) and Child Groups (CG) are formed in the target villages.

ChildFund Australia and the Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Centre have entered a partnership to strengthen protection for some of the most vulnerable children in the Asia-Pacific.

ChildFund Australia Chief Executive Officer Nigel Spence said the two child-focused organisations have agreed to cooperate by sharing information, research and program experience aimed at protecting and promoting children’s rights across the region.

“The Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Centre (BCLARC) has many significant achievements in China in helping at-risk children,” Mr Spence.

“They have an extensive network of around 10,000 pro bono lawyers helping children with the law and have been influential in strengthening child protection laws in China. ”

The partnership between ChildFund Australia and BCLARC also opens up the potential to explore joint projects in the region.

ChildFund Australia has deep ties in Asia, overseeing national offices in Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.

It is also a member of the global ChildFund Alliance, which assists more than 14 million children in over 60 countries.

Many of ChildFund’s activities aim to strengthen children’s rights at all levels and ensure children have a voice in issues that affect them.

Child protection and children’s rights are also the central focus for BCLARC, which became China’s first NGO focusing on child rights in 1999 and provides free legal aid to vulnerable children and youth throughout the country.

As well as providing legal advice for children and youth, BCLARC regularly publishes legal and policy research, and has contributed extensively to policy reform in China on child protection and children’s welfare.

“ChildFund’s is working in many of the poorest communities in Asia to protect children’s rights and ensure children can grow up free from violence and exploitation.  BCLARC has a great deal of expertise in this field,” Mr Spence said.

“So there are many opportunities for our organisations to work together for the benefit of children and youth in Asia.”