By Kampamba, 16, young journalist in Southern Province, Zambia
Between April – August 2020, World Vision spoke to 763 children and young people in six regions between the ages of 7 to 19 years old about their experiences and recommendations on the impact of COVID-19. 81% of children and young people talked about violence in their homes, communities and online since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read the full report here.
With COVID-19, many children, especially the girl child, have been affected. The school closures meant that children were home doing nothing, which presented an opportunity to perpetrators of child abuse in the communities.
This consultation was a perfect chance for me as a young journalist to present challenges faced by children to our traditional leader and get feedback from the chief on our proposed solutions to the problems we identified. When talking with my fellow children, I found an increase in teenage pregnancies, defilement cases, and cattle herding. I met friends who did not have the means to access the government's online lessons because of not having gadgets; most of us do not have the resources to buy the devices. It was sad to find young girls and boys of my age struggling to acquire soap and face masks.
I believe it is important for children to have a voice in the coronavirus response. Leaders need to listen to us and include us in their planning. We can reach people with messages that grownups cannot, and my friends and I have spoken to 70 households in the villages when schools were closed for five months. Children must take the lead to sensitise our communities on the dangers of COVID-19.
I hope that many people will read this consultation and take what children say to be serious. They should be concerned about the problems we identify. As children, we are uniquely able to present these issues to people because we’re experiencing the problems ourselves. I also hope those who read this tell others who don't know about us young people speaking out and how we are affected.
My main hope is that leaders read this and work to make sure children are in school despite COVID-19; it pains me to see girls with children at a young age because it deprives them of a chance to have a better future, and that is what was happening during our school closures.