Child Friendly Spaces; an Avenue for Learning and Socializing

Children participate in a board game at a Child Friendly Space in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.

Children are the foundation that are going to steer the future of the world. We need to create an environment where they can grow, play and heal especially when they have been exposed to life-shattering experiences such as war, disaster and displacement.

The inevitable need to address the psychosocial issues that countless children face as they transverse distances to seek safety in Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo and what they encounter in their day to day life as they try to adapt to their new lives calls for a space where children can just be children.

This is the need that the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is addressing through the Safe guarding Lives with Multi-sector Assistance (SALIMA) project by setting up Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement. This child friendly space that is located in Maratatu D, which harbours hundreds of children daily that are guided, taught and instructed by four facilitators from their own communities.

Understanding the need to provide a safe foundation for every child, LWF strives to encourage parents to let their children spend time at child friendly spaces where special attention is accorded to them in the effort to address the diverse challenges in life.

“We teach children how to play, live together in harmony and also follow up on problems for children. We engage parents too on issues regarding children’s rights and how to treat them. This space has revived the spirits of the children making them more vibrant than before. They entrust us with their challenges and solve them,” shared Joshua Owiling Imana, a Congolese Refugee and facilitator at the Child Friendly Space in Maratatu D, in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.

Maratatu D also happens to be densely populated and children use the spaces as an area to learn from as well. The nearest primary school is in Maratatu A, as the only school in the Zone and Village of Maratatu.

“The children are willing to come and learn more. They have learnt a lot including English,” said Nicklet Mbabazi, a teacher and facilitator at the Child Friendly Space in Maratatu D.

Additionally, the children are given an opportunity to be lively, vibrant, active and all in all, just be children. This is made possible through a series of games that they play with facilitators, dedicated to making sure that they safely partake in these activities.

“I engage children in the different games. The children learn songs, and play, and associate easily with each other,” confirmed Ruth Bujune, a CFS facilitator in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement.

These games range from singing, swinging, board games, painting and much more. The children are also taught to look after and appreciate the environment by tending to small garden plots and tree nurseries, planted to create harmonious and green yard at the CFS.

LWF appreciates Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration for recognizing the importance of active involvement in shaping a child’s future, and extending funds through SALIMA project to make the children in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement enjoy childhood.