ChildFund Sri Lanka conducted a leadership training camp for ‘Alliance of Youth to End Violence Against Children’ (AYEVAC) recently in Dambulla. The youth movement – ‘AYEVAC’ is an independent movement, founded in 2018, AYEVAC was initially mobilized in 10 districts where ChildFund Sri Lanka was present. With ChildFund Sri Lanka’s support AYEVAC members are youth aged 15-29, advocating the Government that child protection is a national priority. During the last six months, AYEVAC has conducted signification mobilization efforts and now account for over 750 members across all districts.
‘Alliance of Youth to End Violence Against Children (AYEVAC)’ was initiated by ChildFund Sri Lanka as a child and youth advocacy body to end violence against children. This includes preventing and responding to sexual, physical, mental and online abuse against children. It adds value to ChildFund’s mandate on ensuring every child’s right is protected and safe. By supporting AYEVAC ChildFund is creating the next generation of change agents who will advocate for Child rights and protection in Sri Lanka.
ChildFund believes as advocates, youth have more mobility to advocate for children as they have experienced these issues during their childhood and therefore are in a strong position to advocate for children. The voice of this youth movement can advocate to the Government and stakeholders that child protection is a national priority. Therefore, all policies and practices must be conducive.
The camp facilitated by ChildFund Sri Lanka, brought together over 100 youth leaders of the AYEVAC Team, from all 25 districts in the island. A few parents of the youth members, ChildFund Sri Lanka staff and local partners were also present at this unique event. The camp focused on building youth leadership qualities, increasing awareness on child related issues, learning how to be advocates for ending violence against children and raising their voices on child protection issues. The camp also aimed at building the team spirit among AYEVAC members, reviewing and updating the existing AYEVAC leadership structure and electing members for the governance and leadership roles. Another key priority was to develop a plan of action for the period July 2022 to June 2024 to energize and up-scale the future mission of the movement.
The sessions at the camp included knowledge sharing on child protection ensuring the participating youth understood the concepts on violence against children, how it affects the community, how to voice their opinion, revisiting AYEVAC leadership roles, planning and discussing the movement’s future direction and election of office-bearers.
The event also featured area police officers addressing the youth on the laws related to child protection, safety and how AYEVAC members can use community support to advocate for violence against Children.
ChildFund Sri Lanka has been collaborating with AYEVAC since 2019, mobilizing young people across Sri Lanka to speak out against violence and champion policies that protect children.
One of ChildFund Sri Lanka’s core programmes are child protection and advocacy. By undertaking interventions of supporting the movement, ChildFund Sri Lanka is strengthening the movement and ensuring capacity building and galvanizing communities in dealing with child protection.
Elaborating on ChildFund Sri Lanka’s collaboration with AYEVAC, Nalaka Siriwardena – Country Manager Sri Lanka said, “It is our mandate to support youth in the country to develop their leadership ability and become responsible citizens. Increasing their knowledge on child rights and protection, mobilize them to be change agents, giving them the exposure and opportunities are essential elements in this process. AYEVAC provides them this space while contributing to the important discourse on ending violence against children in the country. AYEVAC will not only develop a set of youth leaders but it will also address one of the grave issues related to children”
Demonstrating their passion and commitment towards ending violence against children, the youth movement has accumulated over 100,000 signatures through a campaign petitioning the end of all forms of violence against children.
National Convener, Waruna Hashan from Monaragala stated, “We were able to meet and connect with the movement’s leaders from across the country. To-date we only met online and were able to physically meet everyone for the first time at the camp. The camp supported us to develop our leadership skills. Learn about Child rights and Child Protection issues in the community and how we can use our voice to advocate for the Children. We are appreciative of ChildFund’s efforts in organizing such an event. With youth recognized as the backbone of society today, we are hopeful ChildFund will organize similar events in the future.”
Together with ChildFund Sri Lanka’s support AYEVAC aims to continue to empower youth to become child protection advocates on their own, becoming change agents and future leaders.