– October 12 2017
Giving every child a voice
Sixteen-year-old Sandra Ayllon from Cuenca in Ecuador had the chance to travel to Geneva in February to speak out for children’s rights as part of the ‘Network of Child Communicators’.
SOS Children’s Villages UK sister agencies have set up the Network for young people to share their stories to help safeguard children by strengthening families and building the capacities of child care professionals.
Sandra was taken into state care at the age of four. She stayed in various state-run institutions until two years ago when she went to live with an SOS family. Her mother has a physical disability, and was classed as unfit to keep custody of Sandra and her younger brother, who was adopted by a family in another country.
Sandra’s experience has given her the drive to stop others like her from being separated from their biological families.
“I would have liked the government to consult me and to ask me if I wanted to be separated from my family or, most importantly, if I wanted to be reunited with them,” said Sandra.
“I wanted something to be done to stop me from being separated from my mother, because it is not her fault that she has a disability which means that she can’t take care of me,” she added.
Speaking out for children’s rights
In February, Sandra shared her story and her recommendations for the government of Ecuador at an event organised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in Geneva. The Committee aims to promote human rights for all and to speak out against human rights violations worldwide.
Sandra’s inputs were discussed at the CRC’s most recent session. In response to her proposals to safeguard children’s rights, committee members called on the government of Ecuador to adopt strategies to promote the family-based care of children. They also urged the state to take action to provide sufficient budget allocations to foster parents across the country and to implement a strategy for the deinstitutionalisation of children.
“For us, this was a big opportunity to ensure child participation and to give young people a voice to advocate and speak out in the best interests of children,” said Veronica Legarda, National Advocacy Coordinator for SOS Children’s Villages in Ecuador. “With this experience and these recommendations, we can start to engage the whole society in favour of the rights of children who have lost family care. We can improve public policy and child protection systems.”
SOS Children’s Villages aspires to learn from experiences like Sandra’s in order to widen its partnerships with governments, encourage states to reduce institutional practices and to improve alternative care.
You can help us in our work to improve children’s lives around the world by making a donation to SOS Children’s Villages today.