Two Gambian children who participated in the Addis Ababa International Children's Festival in Ethiopia under the patronage of the ChildFund The Gambia, as part of the commemoration of the Day of the African Child, Tuesday returned to Banjul after participating in a series of interactive sessions.
Abdoulie Jammeh of the Ding Ding Bantaba Federation and Ramatoulie Bah of the Eastern Foni Federation, respectively, represented ChildFund The Gambia at a forum, which had its theme, 'The rights of the children with disabilities: the duty to protect, respect, promote and fulfill'.
The high-level children's forum availed the duo the opportunity to actively participate in all sessions; such as competitions and debates, and also voiced out their opinions on issues that affect children around the globe.
Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday shortly after their arrival at the ChildFund head office in Kanifing, the two participants expressed joy over representing the country to such an important forum for children across Africa, while thanking ChildFund for selecting them. The duo described the Festival as an important platform that gave them a unique opportunity to interact with diverse children from across Africa, thus exposing them to foreign cultures and many other new things. "It is an experience for us and it was very exciting because we met lot of other African children with different cultures," Abdoulie told the journalists.
He expressed good impression about the children with disabilities they met at the festival, noting that their mesmerizing performances were indeed amazing. The ChildFund's youth technical specialist, Ousainou Sarr, who traveled with the children, said participating in events like that was part of their core mandate to fulfill the obligation of the right of the child. He added that it was really amazing to see talented disabled children performing better than expected. To this end, Sarr stressed that awareness, participation, and social access to kids with disabilities are three main core issues that are needed to be considered for disabled children not only in Africa but beyond. He informed that the participants had the opportunity to visit all the projects under ChildFund International Africa regional office in Addis Ababa and Abdoulie Jammeh, he said, spoke at the opening ceremony of one of the projects.
Speaking on behalf of the national director of ChildFund, Mustapha Kebbeh, a programme manager, harped on the importance the institution attached to the commemoration of the Day of the African Child. He reminded that the day is observed on the 16th of June every year in remembrance of the massacre of the innocent children of Soweto by the brutal forces of the then apartheid regime of South Africa. He added that the commemoration was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU). "This celebration provides an opportunity for governments, Non-Governmental Organisations and other stakeholders to give further support to the campaign and raise the awareness level of disabled children and how they can contribute to the national development," he said.
Also taking turns to address the gathering, the sponsored relation manager at ChildFund, Nfamara Dabo dilated on the importance of the celebration, underscoring that their objective is to ensure that they give children the lead by creating an opportunity for them to interact with each other outside the country.
While concluding that it is part of their commitment to develop children in all categories, Dabo said ChildFund is impressed by the performance of The Gambian participants at the Addis Ababa Children's Festival.