Islamic Relief’s child protection experts have received specialist training in helping faith leaders become agents of positive change.

Through a partnership between World Vision International and Islamic Relief Worldwide, faith leaders and experts were invited attend the first interfaith facilitators’ training on child protection. Christians and Muslims were brought together to discuss faith interpretations of child protection according to religious scripture. This helped build community faith leaders’ awareness and motivation to support and advocate for children’s rights.

The intensive training was held in The Philippines.

The intensive training was held in The Philippines.

Leila Fasseaux, child protection coordinator for Islamic Relief Worldwide, said: “Faith leaders have a significant influence within their communities and can therefore inspire change in people. To do this effectively, they have to be equipped with information on themes such as exploitation and neglect. This training allowed us to explore what Christianity and Islam say about these topics and child protection as a whole, as well as learning key ways to be effective facilitators.”

The nine-day Channels of Hope for Child Protection Training of Facilitators was held in Manila, The Philippines, in June and was attended by Christian and Muslim child protection experts and faith leaders from across the world. Issues explored included harmful practices, physical abuse, child marriage and child labour, positive parenting and discipline, and the effects of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Time was spent discussing the role of faith leaders and faith messages in bringing about change in their communities, and encouraging them to take action on their return.

Recent practice and research have recognised the importance of faith in development. In 2012, Unicef published Partnering with Religious Communities for Children, which highlighted the leading role of faith in protecting children around the world, and the importance of open dialogue about sensitive issues.

Leila Fasseaux, child protection coordinator, and Neelam Fida, child protect project manager, both from Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Leila Fasseaux, child protection coordinator, and Neelam Fida, child protection project manager, from Islamic Relief Worldwide.

Neelam Fida, child protection project manager at Islamic Relief Worldwide, was one of the trainers at the event. She said: “The Quran is very clear on the rights and responsibilities owed to children and it was useful to explore messages from Islam and Christianity and discuss how we can interpret them in the field of child protection. This training will help us develop our work globally.”

“The Prophet (PBUH) says ‘Every one of you is a Protector and Guardian for those who are placed under your care’ [Bukhari and Muslim]. The custodianship (Amanah) is further emphasised with the command of not betraying the trust. Allah (SWT) says ‘Betray not knowingly your Amanah (things entrusted to you). [Quran: 8:27]”

Experts who received the training have since returned to their home countries and will set up awareness sessions with faith communities, encouraging them to form local committees to protect children from violence and harm

The training was part of a strategic interfaith partnership between Islamic Relief Worldwide and World Vision International formed to share faith-based perspectives on child protection. The organisations, which began collaborating on child protection two years ago, designed the partnership to help them work more effectively with communities of different faiths.

Islamic Relief works with children across the world and currently supports 44,500 orphans across 24 countries*. We run programmes in countries including Lebanon, Central African Republic, and Bangladesh.

*Figure from 24 August 2015.