The world has become a global village. The internet is the way to go and children play, learn, create and connect through it. The scary part is the digital world continues to grow and change all the time. Therefore, how do we enable the safety of children? This is what Child Online Africa aims to achieve. It is a child focused research and advocacy-based organization that campaigns for/with children and young people and their families to influence policies and change practices that affect child well-Being in Ghana and Africa.
“COA motto is: Building The Future Today and knowing very well we could achieve our goal all by ourselves, we build partnership with organizations, agencies and individuals to promote the Safer Internet & Child Online Protection agenda through rights and evidence based advocacy, approaches we believe will inure to the benefit of sustainable outcomes,” said Awo Aidam Amenyah, Executive Director at Child Online Africa.
Their aim is to foster an Africa fit for children and promote the global child safety agenda. They have over the years used resource mobilization, open strategic partnerships, capacity building and policy advocacy as an approach to achieve their aims and objectives. Their programs focus is on 3 main strategic pillars thus: Child Online Protection, Child Well-Being, Digital Literacy & Citizenship, Menstrual Hygiene Management practices/options and Early Grade Literacy.
Since 2008 the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) launched what is called the Child Online Protection (COP) initiative aimed at stakeholders working together to ensure that a local level policing mechanism is in place for children and young people in all member states.
“Children and young people get abused in all forms, they get groomed to be what parents never thought they could become, trafficked by the finger tips, bullied for the fun of it and ignorantly and in the end their childhood innocence is robbed by irresponsible and selfish adults. Parents seem worried, teachers are concerned, governments seem to be overwhelmed among others but for how long can we throw our arms in the air? Things needs to change, and we took action,” She added.
Sharing reasons why she and her team planned for us to embarked on the journey to climb Kilimanjaro, Awo Aidam Amenyah mention that the #Hike4TheChildOnline #Kili4TheAfricanChild initiative was an expedition aimed first at drawing attention to the fact that children and young people are also on the imaginary street known as the Internet and it is important the street is made wholesome for their growth and development in every aspect. It was also to remind adults and decision makers of their responsibility towards children on the continent and finally to raise funds to support programs and initiatives going forward. “On a personal level, the climb has opened me up to a number of things and motivated me to do more for children because it is the best investment one could ask for in the current dispensation,” She said smiling.
There are challenges in every area of life and in this part of Africa regarding the charity cause: the biggest challenge is funds and the lack of commitment. “The thinking was, this is not our kind of style in raising funds and most people do not see the value in you moving out of your comfort zone just to set an agenda a worthy venture enough, so the support did not come as expected,” Awo Aidam deliberated. Speaking on their future endeavors for Child Online Africa, Awo told EYEGAMBIA that the plan for the future is to have the continent prioritizing Child Online Safety and Well-Being and they intend to partner and collaborate with others in achieving that goal. Couple with that, they also intend to make available relevant resources to the children and young people in Africa. For our Menstrual Hygiene Management programme dubbed the Happy School Girl Project “we hope to contribute to achieving the Sustaining Development Goals (SDGs) by our continues advocacy for a tax free sanitary napkin in Ghana and the choice for green products which are eco-friendly.”