Reflection on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Sarah Ford, CRS senior technical advisor, Partnership & Capacity Strengthening, wrote the following reflection on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 25.2
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Recently I had the honor of spending two weeks in the Dominican Republic, working with an amazing group of CRS partners. These partners work with children living in the streets, forced there by family breakdown, poverty, abuse, loss of parents, or a myriad other horrific life circumstances. Our partners, Acciòn Callejera, Inc., Niños del Camino, Inc., Proyecto Educativo Caminante, Inc., Quèdate con Nostotros — Muchachos y Muchachas con Don Bosco, and Yo Tambièn — Pastoral Juvenil de la Iglesia Catòlica, inspired me every minute I spent with them.

They are, as organizations and to a person, deeply and profoundly committed to the right of every child, and every family, to live in peace, with appropriate housing, jobs, education, and health care. Working quite literally day and night, our partners help children leave the streets, bring them to their centers to live and attend school. For these children, this means an end to sexual predators, an end to hunger, and an end to slave-like labor. However, for our partners, this is not enough. They further work to address the conditions that lead to the children living on the streets.

By helping the families of the children, our partners work to reunify families. In fact, an early project with CRS, funded by USAID, helped 3,300 children and youth — 887 completed vocational courses, 313 reintegrated with their families, 418 went back to school and 801 additional children achieved grade level performance. The project also provided 718 families with training to improve family relationships and support systems for children.

Now, in a follow up project, CRS and partners are working to increase the educational opportunities available to out of school and homeless children while working with their families and communities to address the causes and the impact of poverty, HIV, and exclusion.

Much work remains to help and hold families, the government of the Dominican Republic, and the world to providing the same social protections to all children. However, the passion, love, and commitment of our partners are an inspiration and a living example of the UDHR article 25.2. These brave and never-tiring people, through their Catholic faith and profound belief in the human rights of every child, make a tremendous difference in the world.

In peace and with great respect for the work of these amazing people and the courageous children they represent,

– Sarah Ford

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