Nelson Mandela Children's Fund's perspective: "Giving voice" to children's perspectives of their reality and their dreams
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The findings of the research indicate that children do not fully enjoy their protection and participation rights and service provision is not adequate to address their needs. Places of safety for children included churches and sometimes schools and playgrounds. Safety was also associated with trusted adults, caregivers and friends. Children felt unsafe when they were at risk of encountering adults who acted irresponsibly, for example, when they are drunk or malicious, for example, adults who perpetrate sexual and other types of abuse. Children had mixed opinions about the quality of service delivery but they understood very well how these services influenced their wellbeing. Youth opinions about programming directed at them indicated that youth were very satisfied with the types of programmes. It should be noted that the research was conducted with youth engaged in programmes and did not solicit opinions from youth who elected not to participate in programmes. Sexual health and access to education were the primary issues that youth felt strongly enough to share opinions. The gender and rights orientation of the youth who participated in the research was very apparent in the contributions they made. Children and youth expressed aspirations of an improved quality of life and professional careers that would ensure a particular lifestyle. They did not lack self-belief rather the knowledge and information in relation to conquering their challenges in order to realise their dreams.