Faith-based organizations focus on children's rights in Botswana

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GABORONE, Botswana, 17 December 2009 - The devastating impact of HIV and AIDS in Botswana has directed much of the country's attention to children's survival. To ensure that children's rights remain a priority here as well, faith-based organizations are lending a hand.

Recently, in connection with this year's launch of the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children, religious groups - together with UNICEF and its government partners - released a series of publications targeted toward children, faith communities and religious leaders.

The publication project - consisting of 37 different books developed in partnership with 13 different religious organizations - includes children's books for use during Sunday School (or equivalent); sermon notes linking religious observances and ceremonies with specific children's rights; and a set of training materials for religious organizations.

Reflecting faiths and beliefs

These publications span themes that were jointly selected by the various religious groups. Yet they all highlight important child rights such as birth registration, early childhood development, sanitation and hygiene education, treated bed nets for malaria control, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, and child protection.

The initial feedback from young people has been very positive, with many expressing their appreciation for the fact that the materials reflect the faiths and beliefs of their local communities.

The publications are also intended to encourage positive behavioural change in young people. In this area, there are also signs of early success. After reading the publication on hygiene education, one child said: "Before I read these books, I never used to brush my teeth. Now I do it every day."