DAR ES SALAAM
, 13 October, 2020 / 11:43 AM
An ongoing radio program in Tanzania hosted by children aimed at making children in the East African nation aware of sexual abuse cases and the safeguarding of minors was inspired by the 2019 Vatican meeting on the “Protection of Minors in the Church,” an official who was in the team that spearheaded the program has said.
In a report shared with ACI Africa Monday, October 12, the Coordinator of the World Family of Radio Maria Africa (WF Africa), Paolo Taffuri says the leadership of the organization decided to have the program after reading the Holy Father’s concluding address at the February 2019 meeting, in which Pope Francis called for the protection of children from falling victim to any form of psychological and physical abuse.
WF Africa officials “decided to organize educational radio programs aimed at empowering children and teenagers and their parents so that they can have knowledge and skills on how to protect themselves and others from abuse, by identifying it, preventing it, and denouncing it when necessary,” Mr. Taffuri says in the report.
Aired live on Radio Maria Tanzania every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and repeated on Monday from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., the program is hosted by children trained in the operations of a radio studio under the guidance of the radio station’s staff.
According to the Tanzania-based Italian national, the children who host the program were identified in a collaborative initiative that also involved the Youth Office of the Tanzanian Episcopal Conference (TEC) and with the children’s respective parents.
Through organized trainings, which the Tanzanian Social Welfare Office spearheaded, the children gained knowledge in the various types of abuses and skills in how to prevent and avoid abuses.
“Kids are more likely to listen and follow other kids rather than adults; so we involved a group of kids of different ages who after training will be making radio programs to speak to age mates,” the WF Africa official says in the October 12 report.
The station is an “effective tool to spread information to vulnerable segments of society,” Mr. Taffuri says.
He adds, “The response to the program is quite encouraging; people call to share their testimonies, some revealed that through this program they are learning that some usual practices are abusive towards children, therefore they will change their behavior and ways to deal with kids.”
Set to run for three years, the program has received financial support from Switzerland-based non-governmental organization (NGO) Voce di Maria, which sponsored the training of the children.
In the October 12 report, Mr. Taffuri appeals for more partners to have the program, which has the blessings of Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Rwa’ichi of Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam Archdiocese continued.
Held at the Vatican from February 21-24, 2019, the “Protection of Minors in the Church" meeting was the first of its kind, bringing together the Presidents of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences and those responsible for Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life worldwide.
Besides calling for protection of children in his concluding address, Pope Francis called for “impeccable seriousness” in bringing to justice those involved in the abuse of minors, strengthening and reviewing guidelines by Episcopal Conferences, and accompaniment of those who have been abused.
Pope Francis also called for “genuine purification” involving constantly renewed commitment to the holiness of pastors; a balanced process of formation for suitable candidates to the Priesthood, fostering holiness and the virtue of chastity; awareness of the digital world as an avenue for abuse of minors; and combating sexual tourism.
“I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth: this is demanded by all the many victims hidden in families and in the various settings of our societies,” Pope Francis said.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa