Written by Rachel Aird, Chairperson of The Family Africa and Member of the Executive Board of the WFO.
The Family Africa celebrated the International Day of Families on Monday May 15th as well as the World Family Organization 70th Anniversary as it was formed by member nations of the United Nations in 1947. The Chairperson of the Family Africa, Mrs Rachel Aird is also on the Executive Board of the WFO and so we wanted to make the day very special.
This year’s observance of the International Day of Families focuses on the role of families and family-oriented policies in promoting education and overall well-being of their members. In particular, the Day was to raise awareness of the role of families in promoting early childhood education and lifelong learning opportunities for children and youth. We wanted to also raise awareness of the WFO’s work both now and over the last 70 years.
The event was attended by 6 different organizations and 120 people. Rachel shared a powerpoint on what the International day of families means and why WFO was started by the UN and 27 member countries and the importance of its work worldwide. There was a discussion about what makes up a family, different types of families and also how families can encourage early education and lifelong learning which was lively and extremely worthwhile. We had songs and poems from the adults and children and each organization made a speech about what their organisations do for families in the community.
The Family Africa then presented local families with recognition awards and “buckets of love” (buckets filled with toiletries, blankets or thermal clothing) to each of the winners. The stories from the individuals themselves and from Rachel about why these families had been chosen were extremely touching. One woman who won the award for families living with disability has cared for her severely mentally and physically handicapped child alone for 14 years unable to work and with virtually no income, carrying him on her back to fetch food from our centre. She has now found him a special school and pays the fees through selling solar lamps and clothes on the streets. Another award winner came to The Family Africa in a wheel chair crippled from TB of the spine, wheeling through the mud in the pouring rain, begging for adult nappies. The doctors said she would never walk again but now she is not only healthy and walking but also one of the leaders of our TB support group. Another winner was a grandmother who cares for 7 orphans and yet another was the head of a child headed household who is still managing to attend school. All of them are real “family heroes”.
The winners of the art competition on “My Family” were then announced and the children received their “black box surprise” prizes (full of chocolates, crisps and toys). The event ended with lunch served to all 130 people (somehow we had more people by the time came lunch came around J). A wonderful day, a successful event , a heart- warming coming together of families celebrating our differences and our desire for the warmth and comfort of a family and our desire to make the world a better place for all families “leaving no family behind”.