Children participate in community development

Twelve year old Amina Soumana joined the Tera children’s club when it began in 2010 as the club’s treasurer. She attends all the meetings, and never misses an opportunity to express her views on issues raised in discussions. She is one of the club’s 16 members.

 Now a very dynamic child, it wasn’t always this way. Before joining the club, Amina was a shy girl and did not interact much with other children; she was afraid to talk to her peers at school. She did not know that children had rights; or that they could influence decisions that affect their lives and even advocate for positive changes within their community.

 "With the club, I have… become very open with my friends and I like to meet with them very often," says Amina. "I feel very useful now because I see that I too can help other children through all the training I have received, and my parents are very proud of me, seeing my commitment to help other children." Amina even travels to other villages to support more children’s clubs.

 Clubs like the one Amina belongs to were launched by World Vision Niger’s Tera Area Development Programme (ADP) and exist in both villages and in the urban district of Tera. These clubs have now become centres of attraction for young people in search of fulfillment and are effective at involving them in decisions that directly affect their lives; showing that children’s clubs can make a difference in the lives of children.

 Clubs educate and encourage participation

Today, the clubs that are funded by WV Niger (with the support of the WV UK office) train children on their rights and on advocacy. Clubs also help children to be involved in hygiene and sanitation activities and in protecting the environment by planting trees in schools. In terms of education the clubs organize “catch-up” sessions that allow students who already have a good level of education to help those who have a lower level by studying and doing homework together.

 Amina said that with the club she has learned a lot about child rights, girl’s education and child participation in community development, especially advocacy; something which remains a very important means to protect children from harmful traditional practices such as genital mutilation and early marriage, which are common in the Tera area.

 Because of their new knowledge about child rights, members of Tera’s children’s club have advocated, to the local education authority, for a healthy educational environment and requested the construction of latrines. The children’s club even advocated to World Vision in order to have more school supplies and was provided with 150 tables and benches and 200 English text books!

 Most recently a club, with Amina at the forefront, strongly advocated to the judicial authorities in order to prevent the early marriages of two young girls and it was a real success, amazing teachers and local authorities who praised the children’s efforts.

 Thanks to the trainings facilitated by World Vision, Tera’s children’s club and other village clubs are full of children who, like Amina, are now aware of the role they can play in transforming their communities.