Like all mums, mother of four Terenga of Betio in Kiribati, wants her children to be safe. But now after taking part in local ChildFund child protection initiatives, she also wants them to be valued and listened to.
Terenga welcomes all the child protection and safety awareness and events that ChildFund is doing in Betio and says the World Children's Day event in November, which was attend by over 1,000 locals, highlighted the importance of understanding and upholding child rights.
"When one of the children did a speech and said 'feed me today and I will feed you tomorrow, take care of me today and I will take care of you tomorrow' this bought tears not only to my eyes but also to the eyes of other parents, grandparents and adults who were present during the beauty contest," she says.
Terenga and her five year old daughter, who attend a local preschool, were among community members who participated in the World Children's Day event that was hosted by the Childfund Kiribati in November. With children centre stage in the fun, educational and entertaining lineup that included a parade, speeches and performances.
The event was organised in collaboration with preschools across Betio and Terenga says it was also an opportunity to show the importance of young people being recognized and valued. She was delighted also to see the joy in her daughter's eyes throughout the day and especially as she played and interacted with children from different preschools.
“I was so touched by the children’s participation during the march and beauty contest as they were having so much fun and I was inspired by the beauty contestants good and well performed speeches, as they stood there on the stage, representing all children in Kiribati, and voiced out to the world that they are important, matter and valuable," she says.
Terenga is married and along with her daughter, she has three sons. She says she has developed a stronger bond and relationship with all her children since the event, as it helped her better understand that children’s rights, capabilities, ideas and happiness are also very important.
"Now, I always listen to what my what children say and care for their feelings and thought.”
Whether it be for parents, caregivers, grandparents, guardians or family members in Kiribati, she says, awareness and information on child rights and their safety is needed.
“I can see children here playing near the road and waste dump sites from daytime until night and the parents do not worry or even care of their children’s whereabouts,” Terenga says.
“The World Children's Day event helps to show us how valuable and vtial our young are."
Terenga like many in the community, can't wait for next year's World Children's Day event.
Kiribati's World Children's Day 2021
The first ever World Children's Day event happened on Betio in Kiribati in November and was organised by ChildFund Kiribati and local preschools.
Fourteen preschools from all over the island participated in celebrations at the Betio Sport Complex.
Over 1,000 people including children, parents, relatives and community members attended. Including the Betio Town Council Mayor and a Representative from the New Zealand High Commission.
The event started with a parade to the Betio Sport Complex, and that was led by the Kiribati Police Brass Band and followed by children and teachers from the preschools and Childfund Kiribati staff.
ChildFund Kiribati Acting Country Director Teima Onorio spoke about ChildFund's child-focused approach to all its work, the importance of understanding and upholding child rights and the importance of this event to the community.
Children spoke about their rights, there was a performance by ChildFund staff and even a beauty pageant. With a bouncy castle and other fun activities.
There were also gave speeches given by some local elders who expressed how happy they were to be invited to the event. The Police Brass Band became our accompaniment from the beginning to the end who played music not only during the march but also as an interval after each speech.
A representative from each preschools took part in a pageant and gave a speech to the audience on the theme "nurturing children will be fruitful to our beloved society” and took part in a quiz on the convention of the child.
ChildFund's work in the Pacific, Kiribati
For nearly five years ChildFund has been working with communities in Betio in Kiribati and the team has developed strong, trusted relationships with local families and a range of government and community stakeholders through the delivery of community development assistance programming.
Betio is located in Kiribati's capital South Tarawa, where about a third of the country's approximately 119,000 population live. Betio, is the most densely populated areas of South Tarawa with extended family members living in one household. These households also often lack key infrastructure and facilities, meaning that access to clean water and sanitation facilities is limited.
ChildFund is working with the community on projects around learning and engagement opportunities, child protection and also household and community resilience. Made possible through support from ChildFund New Zealand supporters and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Impact Programme.