African churches urged to 'preach less, do more' for children

 On the eve of the International Day of the African Child (June 16), churches in Africa have been urged to 'preach less and do more' about child protection and the rights of the child. Speaking here in Nairobi on Monday, at a panel discussion on the rights of the African child and the role of the Church on the issue, the general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), Bishop Hamilton Mvune Dandala said: "preaching on the issue, we have perfectly done it, but not actions. Let's challenge ourselves on this. We need less preaching today, but more actions in terms of programs to benefit the many African children in dire of food, health, shelter and education". The AACC General Secretary, who shared the platform with the UNICEF regional officer for Eastern and Southern Africa regions, Ms Sue Godt, Kenyan leading psychiatrist, Dr Frank Njenga and regional director of the African network for the prevention and protection against child abuse and neglect (ANPPCAN), Ms Phillistah Onyango, disclosed that this church ecumenical body had already declared this year 2006 as their year for the African child. The pan-African church body, which comprises 169 churches, spread out in 40 African countries, is focusing her attention on the issues pertaining to the African child under the theme: The Church Awakens: New Hope for the African Child. "During the year we intend to publish diversified materials, hold seminars and workshops on various matters pertaining to the African child with aims to concientize churches and Christians in general on the issue, from the church pastoral care point of view," he explained. Earlier, the huge congregation, were given documents on the status of the African child today. One document, entitled: The State of the African Child at a Glance, of the estimated 300,000 child soldiers in the world over, an estimated 120,000 were thought to be African children. It also quoted the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report which revealed that about 29 per cent of children between the ages of five and 14 in sub-Saharan Africa, about 48 million) are working and that an estimated 115 million primary school-aged children in Africa are not enrolled in or attending school. The day of the African Child is observed every year on June 16 in memory of about 700 children who were massacred in June 1976 in Soweto, South Africa during the then apartheid regime as they demanded their education rights.

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