Emmanuel I. Kamara
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2017
The umbrella body representing all children of Sierra Leone, the Children’s Parliament better known as the Children’s Forum Network (CFN) has today, Monday 28th August 2017 commenced a four-day Annual General Meeting in the newly established Karene district.
The event is taking place in the remote location of Kamakwie, which is now the Karene district headquarters as recently promulgated by President Koroma.
It was in solidarity with the President who is seeking to take development and progress to all previously remote parts of the country, that the children all unanimously chose the new Karene District as the location for this year’s meeting. The event is expected to end on Thursday 31 August.
Various speakers of all ages took the opportunity to praise the leadership skills of the Minister responsible for Children – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden.
Elected CFN President Ms. Paulina H. Bangura who chaired the event, saluted her child colleagues who travelled from afar to grace the occasion and called on them to remain focused throughout the 4 days training, as the meeting will enhance their ability to be able to become effective participants in all governance issues. She eloquently described Minister Blyden as a “kombra” who relates well with children.
To loud applause from children from afar as Falaba, Karene, Bombali, Tonkolili, Koinadugu, Port Loko, Kambia, Bonthe, Moyamba, Bo, Pujehun, Kono, Kailahun, Kenema, Western Rural and Western Urban areas, the President of CFN said she is “thanking Minister Dr. Sylvia Blyden for her relentless support to the Children of Sierra Leone and to CFN”.
CFN President continued to motivate her fellow companions to act as positive children because they “own the future and our future must be positive for our country”.
Among the over 100 children who travelled into Karene, include child victims from the Regent mudslide disaster and from Kaningo/Kamayama flood sites. Also invited to the AGM is Mamie Sam, the famous teenager who had suffered from overgrown breasts and was kidnapped from Kailahun but who, through the efforts of Minister Sylvia Blyden, is now happily reunited with her mother and two sisters. Mamie Sam and her younger sister Nancy Sam are both happily attending the AGM.
Host Paramount Chief Alhaji Kandeh Luseni III of Sella Limba Chiefdom heartily welcomed the children from all over Sierra Leone into Kamakwie and assured them of his support throughout their AGM in his chiefdom and new district.
He pointed out that the motto of CFN was correct and urged them that it is from childhood that one starts to lay a good foundation for life. He also had high words of praises for the Minister Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, a woman of substance in Sierra Leone.
Coordinator, Women’s Forum in the new North-Western Province, within which Karene is now placed, Madam Mariatu Songo-Kanu expressed sincere gratitude to Minister Sylvia Olayinka Blyden for supporting and encouraging children, especially the large number that was chosen from all the 13 chiefdoms of the new Karene District.
She saluted the Government of President Koroma through Social Welfare Minister Blyden for supporting the children to choose Karene district to host such an important event for Children from all around the country.
Also speaking, the Head of Professional Services at the ministry, Chief Social Services Officer, Joseph Sunday Sinnah, extended apologies from the Minister, whose recent illness made it impossible for her to travel to remote Karene to grace the Opening, but sent him to represent her as her Deputy Minister, as she was also busy with the recent disaster relief efforts.
Mr. Sinnah said the ministry will always work with CFN to tell children about their rights and responsibilities. He said that is the more reason this year’s theme of “Enhancing Child Participation Across all Governance Issues” was carefully selected.
He also said that Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, clearly states that it is a child’s right to participate in all aspects of community development and progress.
Mr. Sinnah said that the AGM is not only about giving reports on the challenges children faced across the country, but also an opportunity to build capacity of children on how to articulate, lobby and respectfully negotiate with authorities.
“You are not here only to move and interact with each other but also to be capacitated in fruitful engagement to be good citizens” he charged. He added that children should grow up with good morals to effect positive change in their various districts and the nation.
Other speakers all made meaningful contributions including Deputy Chairman of Bombali District Council, Director Ibrahim Kamara of the MSWGCA and the Local Police Commander who assured of excellent security throughout the four days until the children return safely.
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