- Published on Monday, 23 July 2012 02:00
- Written by MARC NKWAME
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AT first glance ‘Kesho Cafes’ settings look just like any other Café except these ones take place in open air venue, usually at Via-Via gardens adjacent to the Boma Museum.
A latecomer to the events that usually take place in the afternoons will find almost all tables taken and people from all walks of life in deep discussions over steaming mugs of tea, coffee, bottles of soft drinks and other types of snacks.
A closer look will reveal that among the patrons include police officers, local leaders, ward councilors, teachers, students and pupils, medical practitioners parents and other members of the public all mingling with each in an informal manner. At times during these gatherings, an entertainment group would be invited to perform on stage in line with the day’s theme of discussion.
But what exactly are ‘Kesho Cafes?’ The name was coined from the Swahili word ‘kesho’which means ‘tomorrow,’ and ‘café,’ a place where people meet informally to take beverages and snacks while participating in light conversation. Except the onversations at the Arusha-held ‘Kesho Cafes,’ are not exactly light, they usually target at solving problems and the problems in question are those affecting most of the country’s population that will make the country’s future.
The Arusha-based Caucus for Children’s Rights (CCR) through its 50 Percent campaigns has been organizing these meetings
of people as one among various events aimed at sensitizing the public on issues affecting young children in the country. To begin with, Mr Innocent Kisanga, Logistics Officer with CCR’s 50 Percent campaigns explained what exactly the campaigns are.
“Official figures indicate that fifty percent of Tanzania’s population consists of youths aged below 18,” he said.Tanzania should be having nearly 22 million children who are under 18 years of age, though this figure is set to change after the next August (2012) population census.With that in mind, CCR has therefore embarked on countrywide campaigns that aim to achieve two things; one is to encourage people to invest in children and the second is to mobilize the masses to seriously protect half of the country’s population.
So during the monthly held Kesho cafes, CCR brings together people in the hospitality industry,social workers, service providers and duty bearers in the community who together with children and local leaders get to identify problems, find solutions and create a working bond.
“Between 60 and 80 people attend Kesho cafes every month and these are usually invited through bulk short text messages (SMS) and emails and they are in turn encouraged to invite others who can contribute towards our goals,” explained Mr Kissanga.
Every month an average of 200 people get invited but the highest turnout is around 80 but this number is set to increase as more and more people gets to know about the events, but especially what the gatherings have been accomplishing of late. The Kesho cafes came to life during the African Child Day on June 16th last year and since then the events have been taking place on a monthly basis, reaching out to over 1,000 people to date.
In November 2011, for instance, one of the sessions for Kesho cafes was used as research platform for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) study which was aimed at finding out ‘what is it growing up in Arusha?’ and published a report under the same title.
But through sharing of information and experiences, participants in the cafes have managed to solve various social problems and children issues here, including rescuing those living in vulnerable conditions and those who are being abused. “In the past children had nowhere to turn to but those who come to the event are free to express their feelings and even offer suggestions on how things should run at their homes or schools,” said the CCR officer.
“Here we can talk freely with our teachers, police officers and other leaders something that isn’t easy elsewhere,” said Kelvin Geoffrey a class six-pupil at Kaloleni primary School in Arusha. CCR is essentially a network that advances the protection and empowerment of Tanzanian children.
Its initiatives complement Tanzania’s efforts in protecting the human rights of every child. Overall CCR campaigns for legal reform to protect children, campaigns for an end of violence towards children and pilots innovative scalable models for protecting children.
The Caucus consists of strong and proactive group of principled institutions and individuals who are passionate about the rights and welfare of children, providing vibrant and innovative forums aimed at promoting the accountability of duty bearers towards children, to replicate good practice, share learning and catalyze adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).