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PRESS RELEASE: TURNING POINT FOR CHRISTIAN WORK WITH CHILDREN

May 20, 2004

Nairobi Kenya

180 key decision makers representing work with millions of African children met together at Viva Network\'s ‘Hear the Cry\' conference. The event was endorsed by the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC) and Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA).

‘Children must be a great priority for the church\' stated the General Secretary of AEA Rev Daniel Bitrus. ‘Fragmentation has stopped us from achieving our vision – this now will stop\' stated Shiferaw W. Michael from conference program team and a senior official for Compassion International.

The AACC and the AEA has committed to pool their resources and work together in practical collaborative ventures across Africa. Viva Network Africa seeks to facilitate this process.

‘We will spare no effort in building practical unity amongst God\'s people working with children. We dream of the day when every church operates an effective children\'s program, AND do so in collaboration with other churches and community actors. Only together can we do justice to the needs of children. Working together will ensure more than piecemeal provision and care, but build a concerted, comprehensive and credible response. This is THE challenge for the church in Africa\'. Stated Africa Director for Viva Network Isobel Booth-Clibborn.

‘It is exciting to see the church work together for the defence and nurture of children. It is my prayer and hope that the church will not close its ears to their cry. In the name of Christ let us arise and serve the little ones. I salute Viva Network for calling the church together around this crucial task and stand fully with them in this effort\' stated Rev. Dr. Dandala, General Secretary of the All Africa Council of Churches, who continued. ‘If the ecumenical movement can\'t work together around the issue of kids dying on our door step – what can we do? The church is present everywhere, our commitment is clear, now lets make our words count. Let the action begin. By working through Viva Network the AACC will lead the effort of building a single but effective platform for ‘unity building\' and ensure that this commitment is taken from good intentions to practical action\'.

‘We meet under the shadow of 19000 children who died today from preventable disease and hunger Across this beautiful place called Africa. This should not be. I believe today marks a turning point for children as the huge presence of the church now is being mobilised in the favour. Africa is strong and Africa can care for its children. The time for talking is over, action is our commitment. I want to go and visit the child that felt the difference and I am confident that their number will be legion\' stated Patrick McDonald, International Director of Viva Network in his final address.

Viva Network is a global network of Christians working with children, comprising more than 12 000 groups working together in 70 networks across 43 countries. ‘The largest body of care for kids is the Christian church, but it is organised through many different entities\' says McDonald, ‘the job of Viva Network is to help people work together so that more children get better help\'.

For more information contact:

Isobel Booth - Clibborn
Viva Network Africa
PO Box 14003, Kampala, Uganda
E: Africa@viva.org