Bangladesh Adventures

Friday, December 21, 2007

Children at Risk Networking Agency

Shifting Paradigms for Invisible Children

THAILAND, BANGKOK, Dec 5, 2007: Viva’s latest conference brought together 340 Christian leaders from across Asia to seriously consider the idea of “invisible children.” From street children to child soldiers, conference speakers brought light to the issues facing these oft-forgotten children, forcing participants to reevaluate their current thinking and ways of working.

Asia Cutting Edge is a tri-annual regional conference that helps practitioners to engage in cross-cutting issues pertaining to their work with children. Participants explored the theme of Invisible Children through plenary sessions, workshops and working groups. On the opening night, Stairway Foundation presented a touching theatre performance about child sexual abuse, as seen through the eyes of the abused. “Cracked Mirrors” brought the theme to life and kicked off the challenging 5-day conference on a strong note.

According to Dr Nomer Bernardino of the Philippines, when invisible children are seen, valued and nurtured, they can become honourable and effective leaders.Throughout the conference, participants were challenged to reconsider their ways of seeing children who are typically invisible. The invisibility of these children was explored deeper through 5 lenses: disability, AIDS, ethnic minority, prison and child protection.

Aside from meeting in large groups, participants also met together in country groups and working groups. Whilst individuals spoke of their own paradigm changes, country groups worked on plans to address invisible children issues. Four working groups held post-conference also gave participants the chance to strategize and plan for future action. Some outcomes expected are the development of further animations to raise awareness about child sexual abuse and further seminary involvement in Holistic Child Development trainings.

Key aspects found in every Cutting Edge are the spiritual nurturing and networking aspects. The morning devotions and shared breaking of bread in the closing plenary were particularly powerful and spiritually encouraging. In their evaluations, participants reported that they had agreed on future cooperative activities with others and many left feeling nurtured, encouraged and changed.

A shining moment for a small organization came during the last night of the conference. Sahabat Peduli Foundation (‘Friends who care’) from Jakarta, Indonesia was awarded with the first-ever Asha Award, for innovative and quality work with children who have been sexually abused. Established after the riots and rapes of 1998, Sahabat Peduli boasts a high quality counselling programme designed to help abused children in their healing and to regain their dignity in society.

Bunga Kamase Kobong, a counsellor who has led the organization since its inception pointed out that abused children remain invisible, unhealed and unaided because of the stigma. It is hoped that the recognition received from the Asha award will help Sahabat Peduli in its efforts to break the silence in the Indonesian church and society.

Viva also launched a new book, Understanding God’s Heart for Children: Toward a Biblical Framework which participants eagerly purchased along with other resources such as Viva Equip’s Restore magazines. Each participant also received a CD with almost 200 resources enclosed; each annotated and linked to one of the conference topics.

Ian de Villiers, Viva Asia’s coordinator says, “We’re delighted to have been able to facilitate such a collaborative venture, with many significant contributions in thought, networking and resource-building, given generously for the Viva community by the various International Associates and national networks.” Viva’s next international gathering will be held in July 2008 in the United States.


Viva creates networks among Christians caring for children because of the belief that collaboration brings greater effectiveness. Based in the UK, Viva represents a group of organisations, church bodies and individuals who are committed to every child having the opportunity to become all that God intends. Viva’s work provides vulnerable children with more services of better quality, plus a bigger voice to speak up for their interests. Website:


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