14 December 2012

Rwanda: We Must Do More to Protect Our Children

THE issue of child labour and maltreatment has reared its ugly head once again. Yesterday, The New Times published two stories, one investigating the seemingly increasing levels of child labour in the Southern provincial town of Huye, while in the Eastern Province, children are enduring malnutrition simply because their parents are heeding the advice of traditional herbalists, and not trained medical and social workers.

The issues of child labour, exploitation and malnutrition are everyone's concern. We are a nation whose main resource is its people; so when our youngest citizens are being slowly starved, or forced to do work that is not safe, we are all losing.

When these children grow up stunted simply because they were not provided with the essential dietary requirements, we lose something. When children don't get the chance to go to school, nothing good comes out of it.

It is simply not good enough to blame the parents. In our culture, we are taught to treat every child like our own. Therefore, we must look upon these needy children with more than just pity. We are called to act. And act promptly we must.

If we see a child of school-going age, working in the fields or the market, we must report that to the local leadership. We must use every opportunity to educate those in the rural areas how to keep their children healthy.

Each and every child deserves a chance to be healthy and happy; it is our collective responsibility to ensure that this goal is reached.

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