Tygerberg Hospital Children’s Trust patron Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates have given a voice to children growing up in adverse conditions worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, and they say they fear an increase in child exploitation and abuse.
Among the laureates is Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian social reformer who campaigned against child labour in India and advocated the universal right to education.
They issued a joint statement to governments across the world for the protection of children during this time.
“Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in our world. The virus, the restrictions placed on the majority of the world’s population and the aftermath will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable,” they said.
“Archbishop Tutu’s statement, with Leah Tutu, speaks directly to the very real problem this pandemic has brought by directing support to Covid-19 initiatives with a distinct adult bias,” said Jason Falken, the CEO of the trust.
He said Archbishop Tutu had emailed the trust to offer his prayers, blessings and support for an initiative to be launched on Youth Day, June 16 that would challenge this injustice.
“In the Arch and Mrs Tutu’s honour, we will fight like Tygers for the future of all our children, especially those who are being ignored and downtrodden during this time of global upheaval. We’ll create a platform for young leaders to rise up and help pave the path for our children to have a chance at realising their dreams,” said Mr Falken.
Tygerberg Hospital, he added, supported the health needs of more than half the children in the Western Cape, and to date very little high-level funding had been forthcoming to support the children’s needs. Instead, an overwhelmingly positive response in support of the children had come from the very poor communities, small companies and the general public who were themselves at risk of losing their jobs and livelihood.
“Our trust’s lived experiences speak a powerful truth to the Arch’s words. Ubuntu means we are because of others, yet once again it is the average folk who are showing the meaning of a society in service of others,” said Mr Falken.
The trust depends on support from donations to help make an impact on the lives of the child patients at Tygerberg Hospital. Visit https://www.tygerbergchildren.org.za/donate/ for more information.