Human Rights Day Blog by: Fr. Robert Psinon, SPS – Director SELL Foundation, Nigeria.
The Sharing Education and Learning for Life (SELL) Foundation in Nigeria, a partner of Misean Cara member Saint Patrick’s Missionary Society, observes a world where many desire change but are not able or willing to bring it about.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s admonition to “be the change you wish to see in the world”, the Foundation’s SELL programme , a peace-building and human development organisation, reaches out and engages young adults to be part of the solution to challenges in their lives. It does so through participatory learning and advocacy, with an emphasis on human rights awareness, livelihood opportunity, peace-building, and climate change awareness with action.
The SELL programme is implemented in the North East and Plateau State in North Central Nigeria, and area that faces a complex set of challenges related to human rights, aggravated by the operations of insurgent groups, particularly Boko Haram.
Some of the key challenges that communities face are: forced displacement through violent conflict; the operation of and traumas experienced by child soldiers; low access to education, which has been badly disrupted; indiscriminate cutting down of trees; and widespread gender-based violence.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) often face inadequate living conditions, limited access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and a heightened risk of further human rights violation.
SELL has organized awareness campaigns on child safeguarding and social cohesion, and provided sporting equipment and play items to IDPs in Jabi-Lamba, Adamawa State to promote Child Rights, even in such a challenging and situation.
These Right to Play activities have helped improve the wellbeing of the children, restored some sense of belonging, and enhanced intercultural living in the IDP camp.
Promoting human rights also involves legal reforms and community engagement, and SELL has actively advocated for effective implementation of the Child Rights Act (signed 18 years ago) in Plateau State. The structures needed to implement the law have not been in place but, in a big step forward encouraged by SELL advocacy, a Family Law Court required was established in May 2023.
Supporting human rights in North East Nigeria entails a wide-ranging and sustained effort that addresses the root causes of the challenges faced by the population, especially in the context of Boko Haram insurgency. It involves securing the working agreement of communities, government officials, NGOs and other stakeholders (like police, army and others) to agree and deliver a combination of carefully calibrated security, economic, social and humanitarian initiatives to build trust and stability, and an enabling environment for peace and development.
To bring about the desired change, it is essential to be part of the process.
Members of SELL staff on an advocacy visit to a prison in Shendam Local Government (LGA) area which is under Plateau State, Nigeria. The visit was to promote child safeguarding sensitization and policy influence on Human rights.