“Our greatest role as parents, adults and members of the community is safeguarding minors; ensuring the well-being and protection of children,” said Bishop Lagho, adding, “In the footsteps of St. Joseph, let us all protect all children at all times.”
Owing to the high rates of sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies along the country’s coastal strip, the Catholic Diocese of Malindi has taken major steps towards ensuring children are safeguarded and such cases are cut down.
“The Diocese has put up measures such as rescuing children who are living with abusive parents and guardians and taking them through counselling services. We also talk to members of their families and ensure they are integrated back to their communities,” said Bishop Lagho.
The Kenyan Diocese also runs ‘Pope Francis Rescue Home’, a children rescue center the Diocese put up in partnership with Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA) to help rehabilitate child victims of sexual abuse and other forms of exploitation in the region.
According to Bishop Lagho, the rescue home has handled more than 500 cases since its inception in 2015 with tens of perpetrators in those cases being convicted to jail terms.
“In addition to providing psychosocial support to child victims of sexual abuse and their caregivers, and helping in prosecution of child abuse cases, PFRH partners with other child protection stakeholders in Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu Counties through community sensitization forums on rights of children and safeguarding of minors,” he said.
The Catholic Diocese is one of two Dioceses in Kenya where members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) have piloted a children safeguarding program dubbed “Watoto Watunzwe,” a Swahili phrase which loosely translates to “let the children be safeguarded.”
The program, which is also running in neighboring Kilifi County, involves schools and other social gatherings to sensitize the public against child molestation.
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