By Benedict Mayaki
One year ago, Pope Francis urged Bishops to renew child protection guidelines during his address at the conclusion of the meeting for the protection of minors. This week, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) organized a three-day meeting with the goal of examining the effects of policies regarding the protection of children and vulnerable adults in its member countries.
The meeting, from 3 – 5 March, took place in the diocese of Nakuru, Kenya. It is the second of its kind, after a similar one was held in Ethiopia last year.
Speaking at the start of the meeting, the Secretary-General of AMECEA, Fr. Anthony Makunde said: “After a year, we have taken some time to do a bit of self-monitoring, a self-evaluation as a region to see for ourselves how far we have managed to journey this road, which the mother Church has called us to journey on.”
Restating AMECEA’s commitment, Fr. Makunde added: “We are here to reaffirm our commitment to wipe up tears from the many faces of children within our communities. We are here to stop more children from shedding tears; indeed, they have been shedding tears for too long a time.”
He also reminded the child protection officers that their responsibility was towards Catholic and non-Catholic faithful alike as this is a social issue that affects all.
In May 2019, AMECEA put out two documents on the protection of children and vulnerable adults. The first, titled the “AMECEA Child safeguarding Standards and Guidelines” is a framework for policy development for AMECEA conferences. The second document, the “AMECEA Child Safeguarding Standards: A facilitator’s Manual” is designed to train child protection officers as well as policy makers who would help develop child protection policies in their countries.
AMECEA is made up of seven Episcopal conferences: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, South Sudan and Ethiopia-Eritrea.