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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Do children really have human rights?

I love that he got a McDonald's happy meal and became "Batman"  He wore this mask to surgery.
There is a lot of talk about “freedom” this week with a focus on human slavery around the world and especially sex trafficking. We deal with the issue of human rights almost every day here in Swaziland, both for our children and for our staff.

The thing that many people who live in “first-world” nations may not realize is that is there are many places where “basic” human rights are not a “right” at all.  You see, if there is no law within the country where the slavery or trafficking is happening that says it is illegal, then it is not illegal. If there is no law in a country that says it is illegal to have sex with a child, then it is impossible for law enforcement to stop the behaviour, that other parts of the world might see as wrong.  People may agree that it is morally wrong, but many people (the perpetrators) would disagree.  Either way, the children suffer.

On September 8th, 2012 (the year that we moved to Swaziland) the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of Swaziland was enacted by King Mswati III.  It was, and is, a VERY important piece of legislation that provides protection for the children of Swaziland in many areas including: the right to basic food/shelter/clothing/education, the right to have a birth certificate, prevention of child marriage, access to healthcare and HIV testing and it also includes child labor laws and overall child protection laws.  Because we now have LAWS (not guidelines) to protect children, the police can intervene in cases of abuse and hold the abuser legally responsible.  The children of Swaziland DO have human rights and this Act was a life-changer/life-saver. 

I am a firm believer that awareness is the first step to knowledge.  Knowledge is power and power is required to make change around the world.  As people continue to raise the issues of slavery and trafficking, I am thankful for organizations like IJM (International Justice Mission) whose lawyers work diligently to help countries re-write laws that provide protection and real HUMAN rights for those in need. 

One of things that the Children’s Protection Act allowed us to do in the past few months was to get surgery for one of our little boys.  He was born with eight (8) toes on each foot and seven (7) fingers on each hand, for a total of THIRTY (30 digits). His big toes were in the middle of his feet and he did not have thumbs.  Thanks to donors who continually fund our “emergency medical fund”, and with the full support of the Deputy Prime Ministers office, we were able to get reconstructive surgery for this child so that he will have a more normal life.

Last week was the last of four major surgeries that this brave little guy went through. Each of them required crossing the border from Swaziland to South Africa (and back), which is not an easy thing anymore due to anti-trafficking laws, which are also here to protect the children.  We are thankful for our driver (Kenny VanWinkle) and Sr. Supervisor/Auntie Khosie Mamba, who have been with him for every step of this painful process.  Today we welcome them all home and are thrilled to report that all the surgeries where a huge success.

Praising God for 5 fingers on each hand and THUMBS!!
Let us all continue to pray for people all over the world to have access to human rights that would be God honoring and life-giving. 

Live from Swaziland … thankful for all who fight tireless to protect children.


PS - I am told that the same legal minds who worked diligently on the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act continue to work on laws for better protection of the women of Swaziland, including a law that would make domestic violence against women, illegal. We pray that this dream becomes a reality soon so that our Aunties and staff will become more safe.

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