COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions
Creative Partnerships to Mobilize for Child Protection and to Nurture Spiritual Growth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Some estimate that 90% of the world’s children are not attending school today, on lockdown in their homes or some other place where they are confined. Alarming reports indicate rising incidents of violence against women and children. Arigatou International, a Japan-based non-profit organization founded on Buddhist principles, has long worked to bring diverse groups and people together to build a better world for children. Arigatou has launched a campaign, “Faith in Action for Children,” that aims to keep children safe from violence and build on the important roles faith leaders can play during crises. The campaign focuses above all on support for children who may be experiencing violence in the home. It promotes a virtual movement to strengthen ties between religious communities and child protection organizations to influence positive behavioral change. Among the tools are activity booklets for children 4-18 years old that guardians and teachers can use to support children’s socioeconomic and spiritual needs, which are so critical in pandemics and other crisis situations.

As COVID-19 rages through global communities and people look to faith leaders for support and guidance, the campaign also features calls to action by leaders. Among them is Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, a physician and president of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, born in Sri Lanka, and founded on both Buddhist and Gandhian principles. He focuses on children who face great vulnerabilities: "While many individuals value this time spent at home with their loved ones, there are thousands of women and children who continue to live in fear and risk being abused while they remain confined at home with their perpetrators." His message highlights that faith leaders, faith organizations, and NGOs have the power to mobilize and promote ethical and compassionate information to their communities during this pandemic. There is no better place to start than with youth. Some of these tools and resources are available for free in the link below.

(Based on Arigatou International blog post)
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