"Putting the Child and Vulnerable Adult First"

Arrupe Jesuit University Community began the new academic year on a high note, holding a two days workshop on the protection of children and vulnerable adults. This is in line with the programme by the Jesuits Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM) on Safeguarding. JCAM is fully committed through this programme to promote within the communities, formation houses, ministries and governance of the Society, a consistent culture of protection and safety for minors and vulnerable persons.

The theme was "putting the child and vulnerable adult first". This theme was important because we are in the process of implementing the UAPs at both the university level and personal level as individual Jesuits.

The workshop was interactive and informative with the main topics handled including; challenges faced in reporting cases of child and vulnerable adult abuse, the joys and sorrows of working with victims of abuse, and a presentation by a student leader on whether the abuse of students in tertiary institutes is a myth or a reality. The student leader, Mr. Allan Moyo gave testimony on what is happening in the different high institutions in Zimbabwe and concluded that abuse is a reality in some institutions. In the same line, a play was acted by the AFCAST team which revealed how domestic abuse affects the whole family and the life of children, be it at home or at school and in everyday life.

Abuse causes psychological trauma which manifests in many ways and has severe consequences on the affected individual. This was discussed under the topic of mental challenges faced by children and vulnerable adults in our society. It was emphasized that safeguarding and protection is the responsibility of everybody. Seeking help from relevant authorities such as our child and vulnerable adults safeguarding office, child line, police, social welfare organizations such as AFCAST (African Forum for Catholic Social Teachings) and government social workers was recommended at the workshop. During each day of the workshop, there was a round table discussion where participants discussed different questions around the various topics. These interactions were very enriching and awakened the consciousness of the participants. In the end, it was agreed that as AJU family, there was a need to continue taking time to reflect more about issues related to Child and Vulnerable Adults Protection and, as was proposed during the Workshop, to take time to revisit and to familiarize with the University’s Child Protection Policy. This was the second edition of the workshop which has now become an annual event at AJU.