Ending Violence Against Children in Panama

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Community Learning and Collaboration

Last month, the Goldin Institute was represented by team members and global associates at the #EndChildViolence global forum in Panama City, Panama from May 8 - 11, 2017.  This event is the fifth global forum hosted by our partners at Arigatou International and the Global Network of Religions for Children.

PanamaSelect002Diane and Travis were joined by Community Learning Associate Jimmie Briggs and our global associates Lissette Mateus (Colombia),  Geoffrey Omony and Janet Arach of YOLRED (Uganda) and Emeritus Associate Dorcas Kiplagat (Kenya).  The Goldin Institute team shared insights and experiences on building grassroots partnerships and engaged in critical dialogue with faith-based leaders, advocates and youth ambassadors.  The team had deep expertise in the themes of the conference, especially the focus on the challenges and opportunities of addressing violence against children and youth including corporal punishment in schools, domestic abuse, gang violence and organized crime, as well as the conscription of child combatants.

Exceeding organizer expectations, more than 500 people attended the event which saw the issue of “The Panama Declaration on Ending Violence Against Children” -- one of the first multi-faith statements of its kind.

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The GNCR Fifth Forum created an opportunity for the Goldin Institute Representatives to interact with partners, Global Associates, and project beneficiaries from around the world. -- Dr. Dorcas Kiplagat, Kenya Global Associate (Emeritus)

It was a special occasion to see former Global Associate Dorcas Kiplagat who is based in Nairobi, Kenya serving as Network and Programs Coordinator with Arigatou International, the primary host of the conference.  The conference was also hosted in partnership with the Goldin Institute alongside the Interreligious Committee in Panama, World Vision, Plan International, UNICEF, Norwegian Church Aid, COEPA and The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

For Ugandan delegates Omony and Arach, it was the first time either of them had left the African continent. Both were viscerally transformed and inspired by the experience of being in fellowship with peers from around the world. Janet evoked deep emotions through public testimony of her journey from active combatant to ex-child soldier on the second day of the event during a thematic panel entitled Protecting Children from Violent Extremism, Gang Violence and Organized Crime: The Role of Faith in Communities. Her partner at YOLRED, Geoffrey, spoke eloquently of his journey to Panama and its lasting meaning:

Being in Panama marked an historical point in my life. Leaving Africa, traveling to another continent, I was just so happy to be a part of the forum and represent the voices of former child soldiers in Uganda. It was very impressive. -- Geoffrey Omony, YOLRED

In addition to the panel format in which Janet spoke, the three days included parallel sessions on commercial exploitation and abuse of children, addressing traditional or ritual forms of violence and the role of spirituality in child rearing. Plenary sessions preceded those with remarks by a broad array of figures including Arigatou International president Reverend Keishi Miyamoto, H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal from Jordan, Rabbi Diana Gerson who is the Program Director of the New York Board of Rabbis and Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, the Secretary Genderal of GNRC and Director of Arigatou International in Nairobi.

The Forum was a moment to reflect upon the work, that the Goldin Institute-Arigatou International GNRC partnership has continued to promote over the last seven years. The partnership has led to the transformation of many people’s lives in the greater horn of Africa, particularly in highly conflicted areas. My meeting with other associates like Lissette Mateus from Colombia reminded and re-affirmed in me our common humanity, that as much as we live in different continents, our challenges are similar. -- Dorcas Kiplagat, Global Associate (Emeritus)

Marking her third trip to Panama, the Institute’s Global Associate Lissette Mateus left most affected by a plenary session on healthy parenting, perhaps as she herself is the new mother of an infant daughter.

Congratulations to our partner Dr. Mustafa Ali and the team at Arigatou on hosting a meaningful and productive event. We look forward to the sixth forum!

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