January 30 2004
SOS Children's Villages in joint effort to launch Kenya's first child hotline
30/01/2004 - SOS Children's Villages and other welfare organizations hope to launch Kenya's first childline - a free and confidential 24-hours telephone helpline for children in need. Among the many problems faced by children in the East African country, violence is particularly becoming a growing concern.
Violence against children is escalating in Kenya, where an estimated one in three girls and one in five boys suffer sexual abuse before the age of 18. A toll-free and confidential telephone helpline is a first step in offering support and counselling to all Kenyan children and youths in need. Childline Kenya is expected to receive some 20,000 calls per month and will initially require 30 volunteer counsellors.
Earlier this week, SOS Children's Villages East Africa helped host a workshop in Nairobi to present and discuss an initial concept for the helpline. This meeting was organized in collaboration with Plan International, Plan Kenya and Child Helpline International - a global network of telephone hotlines for children, whose volunteer counsellors receive over 12 million calls per year from around the world.
Other participants involved in the workshop included representatives from UNESCO, UNICEF, Goal International, World Vision, Childlife Trust, The Cradle and other child welfare experts. Officials from the Kenyan government and the government-run TELKOM also attended.
Kenyan Minister of state Linah Jebii Kilimo underlined her support for the initiative, saying it was "very timely and recognizes that with changing times advocacy on child rights is on the increase." She added that this "created a need to develop instruments and avenues that will ensure the full observance and protection of the rights of the child."
The Executive Director of Child Helpline International, Jiroo Billimoria, one of the key speakers at the workshop, said: "If we can kick it off with SOS Children's Villages in Kenya, we can explore doing it with SOS Children's Villages across the world."