How are we investing in our children?

Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result 
of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our 
children, the most vulnerable citizens in our 
society, a life free of violence and fear.” Nelson Mandela 
We may have all seen the video about the young little girl being mistreated by the nanny so far. MAIL carried a story about it and called the nanny ‘African’. I have no idea what the editor was thinking. But that is beside the point.


I know that we are all outraged at the nanny: how could she beat up a child like she did? But this video in my opinion represents the things that have become wrong with society. That nanny/house-help/maid  had no right to do what she did whatsoever and I agree. But the reality in life at the moment is that while children are a gift from God- for some of us they are that thing that we have – delegate to someone else and then move on. We as young parents are busy chasing dreams, busy chasing careers that we have forgotten to play that very important role of fathering and mothering our children. To us: money solves those things.

Having a good job and maintaining it, means that our children have everything that they need and so they are happy. We are so content with getting nannies and house helps and leaving them with our children from the age of a few months- and getting back to work because it is okay. Everyone is doing so; there are day care centers that take care of these children.

They need to learn to be independent we say to ourselves – it was harder growing up for us, but today things have changed. We buy them all sorts of gifts and devices, download for them talking tommy to help them learn how to talk. By the age of 3, they know how to operate a remote control. They own the TV, cry when there are no
cartoons. At the age of 5, they are old enough to have a mobile phone that they carry with them when going to day care. We have given in to the pressures of this world and have let everything else and everyone one else look after our children apart from us.

Why are we impatient I wonder, because parenting teaches us
patience? For example: a couple had their first born and when the little one was about 6-8 weeks, the mother needed to travel for some work stuff. So she decided to go with the baby. About 12 months down the road, they realize that this little girl is unable to see – at all. In frenzy the Ugandan doctors say that the baby is blind. Quickly the family begins to fundraise for funds to take their baby abroad for treatment. When they get to the US, they are told that
she is not blind, rather her cataracts were affected by cabin air [blah blah] – that time when she was taken aboard a plane when she had just been born. [Now understand that this was a unique case]

When children are born into our lives, I think that it is important for us to stop and think : What does this mean to all of us [the parents]. There are those that have chosen to be stay at home moms and dads and we applaud them. But the majority of us do not have that luxury and it is understood.

25 years ago when the Convention of the Rights of Children
was put out the United Nations, the idea was to have the government and all stakeholders in this children’s movement ‘do everything within their power’ to promote and protect the rights of children. Uganda signed its commitment 24 years ago. The commitment was mainly about promotion of children rights in
regard to maternal mortality, immunization, under 5 mortality, etc.

24 years down the road for Uganda, we still have gaps because nothing has been achieved 100%. Basic vaccinations have gone up from 47% in 1995 to 52% in 2011. The number of underweight children under 5 years of age has reduced from 23% in 2000 to 14% in 2011. There is growth, there is improvement.

But then there are setbacks that we are facing, the kind that UN or government is not going to be able to protect us from especially in the middle income households. Why are CCTV cameras in our homes ‘an option’ when it comes to child protection? We leave our homes with our children in them to go and work and then at the end of the day, come and review CCTV cameras?

Is that how we have chosen to invest in our children?

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