Not Long Now...

So I am Rick and I’ve been Director of Safe Child Africa for over 3 months and I am about to set off on my first trip to Nigeria – and I’m very excited! 

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I would also very much like to share this experience with you.

Safe Child Africa is a remarkable charity, and I am thrilled to have joined a team doing extraordinary work protecting vulnerable children. Children, who without us would have no one to turn to, no one to care for them and no one to trust.

Travelling with my colleague Dr Emilie Secker, our Protection and Prevention Programme Manager, I will visit our current Safe Child Africa team in the Niger Delta. Our partners include defenders of human and child rights, humanitarian caregivers, educators and campaigners. Together we defend and protect children from violent physical and sexual abuse, get them off the streets, challenge accusations of child witchcraft and advocate for positive change at the federal and state government level to best protect future generations.

Being on the ground I will learn first-hand the impact and importance of these projects as well as meeting the inspiring people making a difference to the lives of so many children across the Niger Delta. We will be there with our team-discussing plans for the future and listening to their feedback.

In only 10 years the charity has achieved some incredible things, but we’re ready to do more.

There are many problems in the Niger Delta. We have had success at getting the State Government to introduce a Child Rights Law into their legislation. It's not used or enforced. There is no infrastructure to implement basic child protection measures to help abused children or children at risk of abuse. That is until now.

We have big plans and we’re going to need your help.

We are bringing together our projects to date as well as developing services to establish a model of child protection and child safe-guarding. We are calling this ‘Project SAFEChild’ – Stop Abuse For Every Child: our ultimate vision. 

One critical element of Project SAFEChild that we need our amazing supporters to help us with is the creation of a child protection centre. This will be the first of its kind in the region.

Appallingly, due to the state’s lack of child protection infrastructure in most cases of abuse that take place in the home a child often only has 2 options: either they stay where they are, often with the abuser, or they run to the streets and face further abuse such as kidnapping, trafficking or gang crime.

Our protection centre means there is a third option. An immediate way to get children out of harms way and keep them safe. As well as offering emergency short-term accommodation it will also deliver wrap-around assessment care, health services and longer-term opportunities for each child through education and skills training. Most importantly it will be a place for a child to know as being safe. 

I really can’t wait to get out there and extend the invitation for you to join me as I share my experiences and introduce you to the rest of the Safe Child Africa team. 

Now I am off to get some quick ‘shut-eye’ before a very early morning wake up.