Thi is a confident young girl, passionate about child protection and keeping herself and her peers safe from violence. Unfortunately, in her community physical abuse as punishment is common.
“I have witnessed many acts of violence where I live. In the past, when I saw someone abusing children, I sometimes told my mother. Sometimes I didn’t do anything, or I just ignored it,” said Thi*.
ChildFund Vietnam worked with children and young people in the Hoa Binh Province to help them learn about child protection risks and how they can stay safe from different types of abuse. In one village a group of 30 young people are taking charge.
“I found out about the group about a year ago and I wanted to join because some of my friends were going to join too. I also wanted to learn more about how to protect myself and how to share this knowledge in front of a crowd. I could also play games about child protection that were extremely useful,” said Thi.
The group gathers once a month to learn about the risks of child abuse, can seek help when needed, and promote support among children. Thi likes to play – so learning about child protection through fun activities is exciting for her.
Together, Thi and her friends often come up with creative skits to perform at school assemblies and share what they have learned.
At the meetings, the youth take part in a wide range of activities including information sessions about child-protection, how to identify an unsafe situation at home and how to recognise different types of abuse and how to report it.
The group are guided by social workers and child protection workers from their communities. These meetings are an opportunity for children and young people to report any cases of physical abuse that they’ve seen or heard about. When a report is made, a child protection worker can plan a home visit and work together with the family to eliminate violence in the home.
“When joining the group, I learned to recognise different types of child abuse. Before, when I was scolded by my parents and teachers, I thought it was because I was at fault. During those times, I felt very sad and blamed myself. But after I joined the group, I realised that it’s not just hitting that counts as child abuse,” said Thi.
Thi is proud to be part of a group that is leading child protection initiatives in her community. Together, they can build a safer, healthier environment for themselves and their peers. She feels empowered with the knowledge to respond appropriately to incidents of physical abuse.
“If I encounter a case of child violence at school, I will notify the homeroom teacher and the school administration. In the community, I would report to a child protection worker, the commune chairman, the village head, the police, and the commune’s Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs officer. I can also call the national child helpline 111 to report the case,” said Thi.
Youth groups are vital to building safer communities for children and young people around Vietnam. Learn more about how ChildFund Vietnam works with communities and partners to build safer communities.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
This World Tuberculosis Day, we’re celebrating community health volunteers like Alex who are fighting for a healthier future for young people in his village.
Alex is a champion for his community. He is part of a team of community health volunteers preventing tuberculosis, treating and reducing its spread among children and young people in his home village in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In fact, he’s been volunteering for nearly 15 years.
Globally, TB is one of the leading causes of death, and for children and families in PNG, the rate of infection is significantly higher than average. But tuberculosis is preventable and when identified early, it is curable. Every year there are approximately 36,000 new cases per year in PNG and 25% of these cases are children.
In Kivori, a remote community three hours north of Port Moresby, community health volunteers are vital to identifying TB in children in his community and that they can access the right treatment.
Alex says, “We look for children that might be suspected cases of TB and then we collect samples to be tested at a nearby health station. We look out for the symptoms like lots of coughing. We also do a lot of awareness with the community and run TB clinics every 2-3 weeks where we can explain the signs and symptoms to people.”
As 80% of Papua New Guineans live in remote areas, many must travel long distances to the nearest health centres for treatment.
ChildFund Papua New Guinea (CFPNG) has supported community health volunteers in Kivori with training on health advocacy, explaining TB, preventing tuberculosis, how to treat it and managing cases in their community. Alex said that the biggest thing that this training has done is boost his confidence and given him authority in his community.
“I feel like, I am good at my job now and the community, they listen to us and trust us.”
He is passionate about the health of his community and helping to reduce the prevalence of TB. “It’s my community so I really want to volunteer. I have a heart for my community and that is why I do this.”
Having new cases every year means that transmission of this disease is happening in families, communities and schools. Alex says that more needs to be done to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. “I hope that in the future we can reduce the number of TB cases in our community.”
Olive Oa, Health Program Manager CFPNG said: “We need to improve the capacity of health workers at every health centre. Right now, 80% of the health workforce is community health volunteers. All health facilities undertaking TB work should be supported with the right training, communication and solar power that can provide basic microscopy testing, lighting, and electricity.”
“In the Central Province, TB is still very common in the communities and health centres we work in. Here, there are 15 health centres that diagnose and support patients who test positive for TB. All 15 health centres have at least one staff trained to care for and manage TB patients. ChildFund works in six health facilities in the surrounding area,” she said.
With the right access to health facilities and early treatment, tuberculosis can be prevented, managed and cured. Learn more about how ChildFund Papua New Guinea is working with partners and communities to reduce the spread of TB.
You can also help to prevent the spread of tuberculosis by donating monthly to ChildFund Australia. You’ll help to give 1,000 children a better life and health outcomes, including protection from deadly diseases through vaccination.