Esma3oona..children speak up

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“Esma3oona” Children Speak Up 
Plan Egypt was founded 70 years ago, and has been operating in Egypt since 1981 under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Solidarity and it is considered one of the largest child-centered community development organizations in the world. It works in partnership with children and their families to bring out sustainable change and is currently working with over forty community development associations in the following areas like Cairo, Giza, Kalubiya, Alexandria, Asyout and Behera with special focus on education, children’s rights, boys and girl’s birth registration and health. Potable water, basic sanitation, support for food production and income generation are also part of the program. Plan’s main vision and mission is a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies which respect people’s rights and dignity.
Children have the right to speak up and say what they think and share their ideas, so Plan established “Esma3oona” TV program produced by Al Karma Production Company on Channel 2, “Esma3oona” is the television component of a larger Child Media Project that started in Egypt in 2006.  It is a television program that discusses different child rights. The program is largely created by the children themselves that completed the training conducted by the Al Karma Edutainment Outreach Division in Leadership and Mentoring, Child Rights, Training of Trainers, and Media Training.  A total of 72 Youth Leaders were trained on the above topics and spread the message to over 700 other children in their communities.  

“Esma3oona” (Listen to Us)  won the Silver Award, Best TV Program at the 2009 Cairo International Film Festival for Children as well as the Silver Award from the Ministry of Culture for Best TV Program. The episodes talk about child related issues like circumcision, abuse, importance of education and speaking out for themselves. “One of “Esma3oona” top priorities is to protect children against all types of abuse and violence within the social justice system, health care and participate fully in decisions that regard themselves and their community”, explains Mr. Mohamed Kamel, Media Coordinator of Plan Egypt. The program also held some other projects like the VSLA (Village Saving and Loan Association) Asmaa, 15, from Khayrallah village, participates in this program “rather than spending my money on useless stuff, I save some as each kid pays 3 LE every week” she tells. The children also participate in projects like making liquid soap “an easy, commercial project” as some of them say. Kids at first watched “Esma3oona”, programs with their families and then decided to join as they saw the positive results from the program. There were lectures for raising awareness which attracted the children to join the projects. Children want to send lots of messages through the program like early marriage which is a nightmare of every girl in Khairallah village “My neighbor is 13 and married a 16 year old and got divorced a week later as her mother in law used to beat her”, Rania, 14, tells us. Child labor is also a major problem in this village, “child labor is a very dangerous fact out there, children drop out of school and they work in a very hectic environment like workshops where they are beaten harshly”, Asmaa adds. “The children of “Esma3oona” want parents to teach them without violence and to engage in open conversations with them”, says Ali, 16, a very bright young man who is aware of the importance of Esma3ona. He took training courses for the TV episodes like reporting, acting, script writing. He is also aware of the importance of creativity and how it is responsible for the development of the society “children must find the chances to be

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