Day 6: Planning time…
In amongst all our work we also find ourselves dealing with the traveller's curse- luggage that didn't arrive.
My colleague Emilie flew with Air France on Sunday and they didn't put her luggage on the aircraft- in fact we suspect they never loaded them at Manchester. It's a big problem- we have limited time in country and have moved from Abuja to Calabar.
Air France is insisting that, when they do find them they will have to be collected in Abuja. It's not on and very frustrating to try and deal with. It's been 4 days now and there is still no sign and an immense amount of confusion- are the bags now in Abuja or Port Harcourt as the UK office is telling us?
We have our fab colleague Aimee keeping pressure on at home but the attitude from Air France is appalling - yes we can replace clothes but we're also carrying gifts and resources for the children who use the centres, most of which has been donated by our wonderful supporters - fingers crossed the bags will get here before we move on…
We spend the morning at Basic Rights Counsel (BRC) planning and consulting with our partners. We're here to discuss how we can establish a much needed child protection centre in Calabar. The idea is to provide short-term emergency accommodation so that children can be housed to protect them from immediate danger in their homes, neighbourhoods or from the streets. We know many of these cases occur late at night and there is no state provision to allow a child to be removed to a place of safety whilst an investigation takes place.
We go to meet the Attorney General at lunchtime. He supports the work we're doing and always responds to our letters and requests. We find out he's been called away to an urgent meeting but instead has arranged for 4 of his directors to meet with us.
We spend an hour with them outlining our work, talking about our future plans and listening to the challenges they face implementing the child rights law. We discover that knowledge about the law is extremely limited: lawyers and the judiciary aren't using it or even aware of what it says.
It's people like James with his integrity, patience and insistence that will drive this forward.
His immediate issue is finding copies of the law that he can distribute to colleagues in the legal profession.
We also learn that the family courts are not functioning despite the resolution of the yearlong strike that has caused cases to become seriously backlogged. Family courts are where child-abuse cases are heard and where victims can seek justice against their abusers.
The impact is devastating to the brave child victims who’ve managed to overcome enormous barriers to report such horrendous violent and sexual abuse crimes. Back to Basic Rights Counsel for a discussion on advocacy: we run through our strategic goals as well as plan our advocacy goals.
To bring this home an 11-year-old girl arrives at the office with her mother. She was raped in the middle of the night and one of James' lawyers has just come back from the police station where she's been held.