I congratulate African Child Policy Forum on its completing 10 years.

We were introduced to ACPF by  Frances Sheahan who was documenting children’s legal protection centres for ACPF and wanted to write about the work HAQ: Centre for Child Rights did in this area. This was in 2007.

In 2009, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights was organising its first international colloquium on children and governance. In researching for potential participants we came across ACPF’s report on child friendliness of governments and decided to write to Dr. Assefa Bequele (that was June 2, 2009). Since I did not have a personal email id for him, I wrote at the organisational one. It was month before I got a reply from him---by which time we had almost given up !

In one of his early mails to me he wrote, “Many people assume Assefa is a woman’s name. Just to let you know it is a very popular and very masculine Ethiopian name! I hope you get the joke – I am only trying to implify things for you, in case you may not know how to address me.” And I replied-  “Yes I know your gender! I found out...just so that I do not make faux pax, which incidentally I am extremely prone to”. This was the beginning of an endearing relationship between not just our two organisations, but between us as individuals too.

Assefa attended the first ever global meeting on children and governance in India, hosted by HAQ in November 2011. He and ACPF thus became an important part of HAQ’s journey.

I had the good fortune to visit ACPF and Addis Ababa twice- once for the preparatory meeting on the next African child well being report on budgeting and then for the release of the report in 2010.

It was also the time that I interacted with the ACPF team and understood the methodology for developing an Index. I have no hesitation in acknowledging that HAQ’s Child Rights Index (2011) would not have been born, had it not been for the encouragement and sometimes even the push from my friend Assefa. We were in touch with Yehulashet Mekonen, cross-checking and verifying our methodology, which we have drawn upon from the ACPF report, and are deeply indebted to him for his patient support. However, our joy at being able to have come out with the Indian child rights index would have been incomplete had Assefa not been here with us on that occasion. This was also our second global colloquium on children and governance in November 2011.  

ACPF’s work is also included in the book “Every Right for Every Child-Children and Governance”, which I compiled and edited, and for which Assefa wrote a chapter on developing a child friendly index. It is significant that at the release of this book, Assefa should say, “We have been actually grappling with issues of policy and governance at  ACPF in a rather isolated way, without quite realising it. It is HAQ that made us realise that that is what we were doing…”

Hence, if I look back our association is not very long in terms of years, it may not seem very long. But it has been a mutually supportive relationship that transcends years and geographical space. That is the need of the day.

I congratulate African Child Policy Forum on its completing 10 years. Its work on bringing children’s issues on to the centre stage of policy and discourse in Africa is pioneering. The child friendly index that it brought out in 2008 has inspired many such efforts across the world, including the Child Rights Index –India by HAQ: Centre for Child Rights. The quality of ACPF’s research and publications is an inspiration for its quality and professionalism.

In its unique position as pan African organisation, ACPF has been successfully been able to bring multiple players- governments, civil society as well as international organisations into dialogue with each other to influence policy and discourse. This is also evident in the august board that ACPF has.

Ten years is a very important threshold in the life of an organisation. It has been the time for dreaming and building. The subsequent years are of consolidating, reviewing, and planning ahead. It is a time to also renew energies and revisit and reiterate dreams that sometimes get lost along the way.   I wish ACPF all the best in this new phase and hope it will continue to address critical issues that affect the children in Africa and bring them into debate and action, and that we will discover and realise some common dreams together.  

My very best wishes are with the ACPF team.