How the Young People’s Parliament Advocates for Children’s Rights

By CKC Project Manager Cat Knarr

Young People's Parliament

On a hot afternoon in June, kids ages 10 to 17 gathered in a classroom in Gemena, DR Congo for a plenary session of the Young People’s Parliament. They sat around desks and discussed issues pertaining to children’s rights in DR Congo.

“Children know their own rights now and can express themselves,” said the president of the parliament after the plenary had concluded. “Kids can participate in making decisions in family and community. There is less violence toward children because of this parliament.”

Meet the Young People’s Parliament

Young People's Parliament

This particular plenary was held on the World Day Against Child Labor, on June 12th. Child labor is one of the issues that the Young People’s Parliament has been addressing, along with child abuse, sexual violence, corruption, and educational matters. These young adults have been advocating for policies that protect and empower children.

The Young People’s Parliament began in 2013 with the support of Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision. While adult leaders provide guidance, the parliament is student-run. The young adults, who come from many different schools in Gemena, apply for the parliament. Each member serves a term of two years. About 100 young adults are currently participating.

A Victory for Children’s Education

Most recently, the Young People’s Parliament petitioned the local education authorities to allow children who could not afford to pay exam fees to take their national exams.

“We had 812 children who couldn’t pay fees for their exam,” one member said.

As a result of the parliament’s advocacy, the education authorities decided to waive the fees for all students who couldn’t afford it. Then they gave the Young People’s Parliament permission to go on the radio and tell the community to send their children to take the exams. It was a major victory.

Now, the Young People’s Parliament is producing a documentary to share their story.

“The children you’re seeing here are making a film to be shown around the world, for the sake of the children, the province, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” the parliament’s spokesperson shared.

The Future of Congo

This is the next generation of Congo—and the future is bright! The recent CKC Pastoral Vision Trip team had the opportunity to meet the Young People’s Parliament, and they were inspired.

“These young people blew us away with their ability to speak for justice,” said Pastor Anne Vining of First Covenant Church in St. Paul. She added, “I believe the DRC has hope if these young people are given a chance to lead.”

Pastor Adam Edgerly of Newsong LA was also on that trip. He shared his reflections, both on the ground and in his sermon upon return. Hear Adam’s thoughts:

From Adam Edgerly’s sermon at Newsong LA, and

When you sponsor a child through Covenant Kids Congo, you support programs like this one that give young Congolese leaders the tools and training they need to change their community.

Keep walking with the next generation of Congo! You can sponsor a child here or host a Hope Sunday to inspire your congregation to sponsor children in Congo.

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One Response to “How the Young People’s Parliament Advocates for Children’s Rights”

Wow!!  I praise God for these young adults!! 

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