Looking into the past and into the future

by Ruth Bücker,  2012/06/16

June 16, 1976 is considered to be one of the darkest and most atrocious days in the history of the conflicts of the South African apartheid. It was brought to public attention under the name Soweto Day, and for decades this date has been a symbol for the then most violent fights between white and black South Africans. In remembrance of the children and young people who had died on this day, and also in order to draw attention to the living conditions in other African countries, June 16 became the “Day of the African Child”.

humedica had been active in Sudanese refugee camps for years and had set particular focus onto children and their development. Photo: humedica

In rebellion against the plans of introducing Afrikaans as official language of education at all schools, ten thousands of black students assembled on June 16, 1976 for at first peaceful demonstrations. Back then, Afrikaans was the language of the ruling white minority and an introduction as sole language of education would have barred the access to education for those black girls and boys who did not speak it.

Eventually, the line of at first peacefully marching young people encountered policemen. This encounter resulted in an indescribable massacre, with terrible and cruel fights between policemen and marchers that claimed several hundreds of victims. Most of them were students.

That summer’s tragic events in the slum of Soweto also shocked people beyond the borders of South Africa and drew international public attention to the circumstances of the younger and most disadvantaged population in particular – to children and young people. Up to this day, June 16 is dedicated to all the victims of these cruel riots.

But apart from this, June 16 is also considered to be a day of promotion of future chances and under the name "Day of the African Child" it focuses on the girls and boys in all African countries, on their current situation and their chances for a better future, for the realisation of which all of us must joint forces.

Joint support for Africa’s children

humedica is active in Africa in various ways: we fight diseases and hunger and promote opportunities for education and future perspectives. These measures concentrate in particular on the children's well-being, as they are on the one hand the weakest part of the population, but on the other hand and, most importantly, also the future of each and every country and the basis for extensive and sustainable changes.

In addition to medical treatment, also relief goods distributions and training measures are held at the Melkadida refugee camp. Photo: humedica/Sven Ramones

By way of the humedica field of relief supplies, 600 to 800 tons of relief goods are dispatched every year, and a fairly large share of these goods is also sent to partners in African countries. For example the Sibongile Day & Night Care Centre in Cape Town receives toys and above all goods for caring and offering physiotherapeutic treatment to children suffering from cerebral palsy.

Since 2007, humedica has furthermore been providing urgently needed equipment to several hospitals and a children’s home in Zimbabwe. For decades, the Emerald Hill Children’s Home, which is run by nuns, has taken care of orphans and children that were mistreated physically or psychologically, has ensured their education and a loving environment.

Also for partners in the receiving countries Benin, the Republic of the Congo and Uganda, the promotion of health institutions is most important. In addition, numerous other hospitals and institutions in other countries were supplied with goods in the past. Although their operations would not have stopped completely without the necessary drugs, dressing materials and medical instruments, they would nevertheless have been limited substantially.

Another form of particularly sustainable support is the Family Sponsorship Programme in Ethiopia. This programme is not aimed at children exclusively: by way of offering support to the entire family and by promoting the community as a whole, it ensures a child-appropriate environment in which the youngest members of society can grow up safely and under medical supervision, receive regular meals and are furthermore given the opportunity of attending school and receiving additional coaching and support with professional training.

Little boys and girls are taken care of at day care centres, where loving staff members keep them busy with games, dances and fun all day long, so that their mothers can take on a job and earn an additional income for their family.

When the food situation aggravated drastically at the entire Horn of Africa in summer 2011, humedica sent out a team of honorary assistants, the members of which are treating children and adults at a refugee camp in the South of Ethiopia up to this day. By mean of setting up a health centre with integrated mother-child ward and by distributing relief goods, this team has contributed to a long-term improvement of the overall conditions.

Also the humedica hospital in Kollo, Niger, which also disposes of a mother-child ward, is a place of protection and medical prevention and rehabilitation. With its laboratory and necessary equipment for making fast and life-saving diagnoses, the little hospital reaches about 450,000 persons in the region; most of them are children.

Coaching in the afternoon and computer lessons are additional support in the field of education – as is shown in this picture from Ethiopia. Photo: humedica

With vaccination campaigns, prenatal care and postnatal examinations, with the treatment of basic medical problems and fast reaction to the first symptoms of undernutrition, the hospital has become a place of hope, where new life begins and newborn children are constantly protected and offered care that starts with their birth and continues for many years.

Although it does not save lives, it still is a great enrichment to the girls and boys: last but not least we would like to mention the Christmas gift campaign "Gift from the Heart". Thanks to this campaign, a smile is conjured up on the children's faces in several African project countries year by year.

Coloured pencils and a teddy, clothes or shoes, a school bag containing proper materials are certainly not essential for survival, but they bring joy into an often bleak every-day life and they are the seeds of hope that can grow further and bloom if they are taken care of.

Please reach out to Africa

Due to their diversity and large dimensions, it simply is impossible to describe all the past and current relief measures. But nevertheless, one thing can be said for all projects and all countries:

Only healthy children are able to learn. Only education can help the girls and boys to escape the vicious circle of poverty. And only this perspective will in the long-term contribute to providing all African Children with better chances for a life with more hope, protection and more opportunities for development.

Please reach out to the Black Continent and its inhabitants also on the “Day of the African Child”, and let us join forces in order to offer the girls and boys a better life, education and protection also in future. Thank you very much!

At this point, we would like to ask you for support in form of a targeted donation in particular for the children's day care centre Sibongile.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Sibongile South Africa
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren
      SWIFT-Code: BYLA DE M1 KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

The faces of Africa’s children: on occasion of the “Day of the African Child”, please feel free to visit the corresponding photo gallery on our homepage.

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