Child Protection Officers (CPOs) from the provinces and regions are meeting in Nairobi from Sep 5-8, 2019. This forum, the first of 2019, follows a Baseline Study conducted in June to September 2018. The JCAM president Fr Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ opened the forum, after a prayerful reflection, emphasizing the commitment of JCAM in supporting the CPOs to fully implement the five-year programme.
The idea of the CPO forums is to help participants to gain capacity, and further implement the process of Safeguarding in the provinces, regions, schools, parishes, social centres and formation centres.
The Child Protection Officers is a team made up of Jesuits and Collaborators, tasked with the development, conceptualization and implementation of the Safeguarding process in a culturally sensitive, and contextually relevant manner. Though many of the CPOs wear many hats, serving in other capacities, they have all dedicated themselves to Safeguarding initiatives in the various Jesuit ministries across the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM). It is a team that has undergone many changes, with some veterans in the process, while others are new faces just beginning from where their predecessors left off, and proactively join in, advancing the conference wide initiative.
On the first day of the forum, all CPOs presented the various reports generated in the course of the year, with the tools utilized to disseminate and diffuse information on safeguarding creating, awareness on abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and the violence that exists towards them, and alleviating the culture of silence in the society at large. The CPOs also highlighted the importance of information sharing and making the communities where they serve cognizant of their responsibilities, and the consequences that follow from any case of abuse.
The CPOs have in the past year, and this year continued to build capacity by undertaking various online and offline courses on Safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults. They have also most importantly developed policies, and procedures of Safeguarding in their various ministries. This with the help of a commission set up by the JCAM president to ensure coordination of the CPOs, and implement the reporting systems.
In this meeting the CPOs had an opportunity to take part in a pilot test and interact with an integrated Safeguarding Mobile App developed by JCAM. An application that will facilitate the safeguarding process and ensure availability of resources for training, reporting mechanisms, and forums for CPOs to interact, promoting inter-province/region collaboration across the conference.
The team is now joined by Ms Beatrice Mumbi appointed as the JCAM safeguarding coordinator for CPOs who will be more in touch with them to fully implement the programme.