On September 24th and 25th, Child Protection Officers (CPOs) in the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar from the various Provinces and Regions converged online to attend a webinar organised by the JCAM Safeguarding Office. Despite the diverse geographical locations, languages, and the challenges presented by varied internet bandwidth, 20 participants set aside their time to take part in this webinar.
The webinar provided an opportunity for the participants to reconnect, renew, get in touch with what is happening, share ideas and experiences, and to ‘re-charge’.
It was evident from the presentations given by the CPOs that serious work has been done despite disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic with significant positive results. A lot of new activities across the Conference in response to limitations caused by COVID-19 restrictions were reported. Notably, the CPOs demonstrated innovative use of technology to reach out to children and families in need, ranging from the provision of online counseling, support through call centers, and social media platforms.
The CPOs also used the social distancing or self-isolation period to finalise on protocols in the Provinces and Regions and responses to situations brought to their attention.
During this time, the CPO team in Madagascar has also expanded with the appointment of two more Jesuits, recently graduated from Hekima University College and Institute of Theology in Abidjan (ITCJ).
The sharing emanating from the two days was described by participants as inspiring and as a forum that provided an impetus for all the CPOs to continue with this important work.
The Conference safeguarding commission met afterward, to review the two days, concluding that the webinar was indeed a success in advancing the work of Jesuits in Africa and Madagascar in the area of safeguarding and child protection.
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