Forty years ago today in Soweto, South Africa around ten thousand children marched in a line more than a half mile long protesting and demanding their rights to education. Many of these young, precious, and innocent children lost their lives on this day.
International Day of the African Child
I had never heard of “International Day of the African Child” until two years ago when my dear friend in Kampala taught me about this holiday in Uganda and all of Africa for that matter that originated in 1991. In a letter from Lucky a few years ago, he told me as well that the day is very important to him and his classmates. The children have parades and celebrations every year on June 16.
Every child deserves the right to an education.
After learning about this special day, extreme guilt smacked me in the face as I looked back at all of the days in my youth when I dreaded school and did not want to go, never realizing that there are children half way across the globe that would give anything just to have the opportunity to go to school.
African children gave their lives for this right that I freely had growing up in the United States. As a child, I never considered education as one of my rights. It was just something all kids had to do with no say in the matter (which is a good thing).
The theme this year is “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”. Not only do children deserve the right to an education, but they also deserve rights to protect them from violence, abuse, trafficking, child sacrifice, hazardous labor, prostitution, armed conflicts, military child recruitment, abduction, and exploitation.
Sadly, there are many today that do not have these rights or at least do not realize their rights and are trapped in unbearable situations.
Please take a moment today to remember the fallen children of the Soweto Uprising, and pray for the rights of the beautiful children of Africa in addition to giving thanks for your education and freedom.
Finally, If you sponsor a child in Africa, take a moment to write them and let them know how much you love them. If you sponsor a child in a different continent, write them and let them know how much you love them. If you do not sponsor a child, tell a child close to you that you love them.
We must do everything within our power to protect the “least of these”.
It is not charity. It is justice.