by Vuong Tuyet Nhung, ChildFund Vietnam
At the national children’s forum held in late August in Hanoi, the focus was on helping children who are the victims of bad treatment, abuse, violence, exploitation, neglect and trafficking.
Eighty-five children from 12 Vietnamese provinces attended the event. The vice-minister of the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) served as chair. ChildFund Vietnam worked with local government agencies in Hoa Binh and Bac Kan to select six children and two adult facilitators from our program sites to represent each province.
Prior to the main workshop, our staff conducted an overview training on child protection to help the children become more familiar with issues like child trafficking, bullying and corporal punishment, as well as the abuse types and trafficking situations that exist in Vietnam and the world.
During the workshop, children had intensive peer discussions about human trafficking, abuse and violence in their areas, identifying reasons and proposing solutions. They also had direct dialogues with MOLISA and the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT) leaders to raise questions about these issues.
On behalf of their localities, the children also delivered powerful messages urging Vietnamese and Mekong regional leaders to combat human trafficking.
Among their calls to action:
- “Please give us a free call! (a hotline to call if they know of a child in danger).
- “Let children live safely in their houses. It’s our sweetest home in the world!”
Nguyen Hai Huu, director of Vietnam’s child-protection bureau, complimented the children’s confident presentations and communication skills. “Their messages amazed me much, with remarkable initiatives reflecting factual states in different areas,” he said.
“I’m so proud and happy to join in such a big event like this,” exclaimed Diem, a 14- year-old girl from the Bach Thong district. “As the leader of Bac Kan group, I encouraged all members in my group to contribute ideas in discussions.” She noted that the workshop helped her gain knowledge of children’s rights, child violence and trafficking. She also sharpened her teamwork and communication skills by working with children from other provinces.
“Now I have a better ability of defining violence cases around me. Before coming here, I thought it is nothing special if classmates beat each other or parents abused their children,” she said.
Five children who attended the August workshop in Hanoi will be representing Vietnam at the Mekong Youth Forum on human trafficking in Bangkok, Thailand, later this month.