Singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo visits her country, Benin, to promote the rights of children.
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Angélique Kidjo Visits Vulnerable Children Programs in Benin
Amy Bennett: You’re watching UNICEF television. Angélique Kidjo paid a two- day visit to the Benin her native country to witness first hand the UNICEF-supported projects in the reducing child vulnerability.
Approximately 500,000 children aged five to 14 works, the majority is girls. They are places mostly in urban families and the practice is called vidomegon. Child placement and child labor are hardly developed. It is estimated that between 40,000 and 50,000 of these children are migrant workers who cross Benin boarders.
Angélique Kidjo: You have early marriage, you have child trafficking that is part of the few because where it becomes dangerous is when you cannot trace your child anymore. When you send your child with somebody that is a friend of yours or a member of your family that live in the city and they come to you and tell you, “If you give me so and so from the house, I give them a better life. I can send them to school, they’ll become doctors.” And parent dreams big for the kids so they would trust that person, and that’s how child trafficking.
Amy Bennett: The economic exploitation and trafficking of children remain a major issue in Benin. In January 2006, the National Assembly adopted a law to combat child trafficking in spite of the fact that between 1999 and 2004, only 70% of Beninese children were registered at birth.
Angélique Kidjo: In order to really be efficient, fighting child trafficking, its starts with birth registration, period. If the child is not registered somewhere, it’s like your child has never been born. So we cannot sit around and have program trying to get the kids out of the street and bring them back because even if you save those children, at one point in their lives, they would need a birth certificate. You don’t have a birth certificate when you’re 18 years old, it’s awkward. It’s odd.
Amy Bennett: Goodwill Ambassador, Angélique Kidjo visited Cotonou and Porto Novo four different transit centers for care and reintegration of children.
Angélique Kidjo: So it’s really important for them to have a job, to have a life because they can no longer go to a known academy called school but that doesn’t mean that they can’t have an education and have a life and be in charge and empower themselves for the future.
Amy Bennett: UNICEF supports the strengthening of technical capabilities of social workers and other staff in the field of psychosocial support and then follows-up with children for successful re-integration in their families, communities and schools.
Angélique Kidjo: For me to hear today that child trafficking in Benin is not only painful, it’s shameful and whatever we can do to stop that, poverty becomes the roots of all this because the parents, they don’t know what to do. The girls go to prostitution to feed that family and so on and so forth. We want to be self-sufficient. We want to be empowered in Africa. If you want to help us, it’s not only money that send that end up in politician’s hands, it’s money that end up on the field to make the difference in people’s life and children’s lives.
Amy Bennett: This is Amy Bennett reporting for UNICEF Television, unite for children.