For as long as we have been gathering people together in community, children have gathered on the outskirts of what we do.
In the African Report on Child Wellbeing 2018, Zambia was 48th (of 52) in the Child-Friendliness Index and 51st (of 52) in the Child Protection Index. There is huge potential for improvement in the life and well-being of children in Zambia and we at Dignity recognise that in the work we do.
A couple of years ago, we began exploring how we could partner with Life Groups to change these statistics. The idea of Love Your Children was formed: a new publication teaching on how communities can look out for their young people. Now, thanks to Kate, Katy and Jan who have volunteered their time and expertise, Love Your Children is a reality!
The heart of Love Your Children is to encourage communities to recognise the importance of children to God.
We hope that the teachings will have an impact on how communities value and treat the children in their lives. Love Your Children is a 9 session, small group Bible study guide that illustrates how much God values and works through children. It draws on stories throughout the Bible – such as that of Samuel and Moses – looking at a different story each session. The group is encouraged to see children as God does and to invest in them, helping young people to realise their God-given potential. The course is underpinned by the recognition that God speaks and works through children from a young age: that children can have an important impact on their communities and that their community can learn from them.
At our recent EQUIP training for Impact Team members, we shared the draft version of Love Your Children. This will be field tested in a number of Life Groups and feedback will be gathered and incorporated. It was clear that throughout the EQUIP training, the stories included in Love Your Children were having an impact on the team as members were able to recall and explore them. Josephine, a Dignity Impact Team member said that the stories in this book will not have been heard by children before. By teaching parents in Life Groups, they will be able to share stories with their children. Love Your Children is a tool to help children thrive in God.
Alongside this, we understand that as we encourage Life Groups to start to love and serve the children in their communities we must do so safely. We must guard against inadvertent harm to children, either directly or indirectly. We have partnered with Tehila, a specialist safeguarding consultancy and charity that has been operating in Zambia since 2012. They are experienced social work professionals from the UK and they are passionate about protecting children and doing so in within the cultural context of Zambia. Together with our Zambian teams, we have learnt from Tehila’s expertise and experience. Our team’s first steps have been to develop “Guidelines for Safe Life Groups” and a simple, accessible Safeguarding Policy for Dignity Zambia.
These simple steps suddenly mean that children are being seen as valuable and worthy of our love, because God loves them! Although the writing of these guidelines and the policy was a small moment, it felt significant. Our hope and prayer is that Love Your Children, coupled with strong safeguarding and prayer, will be the beginning of a sea change for the children in the many communities in which Life Groups meet.
You can pray for:
- The Life Groups who are field testing ‘Love Your Children’ to provide really valuable feedback
- Wisdom as we carry out final edits and amendments to ‘Love Your Children’
- That the learning around safeguarding will not be forgotten, but will spread throughout Life Group alongside ‘Love Your Children’