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The biennial meeting of all Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) is scheduled to take place in June in Kigali, Rwanda and Hopeland has been working with a group of like-minded organizations to ensure that care reform for children without parental care is on the agenda.

Rwanda has made great progress and has been a global leader in curtailing the use of orphanages, and instituting alternative positive interventions to allow every child to grow up in a safe family environment. Since 2012, the country has closed 25 of 39 orphanages. This means that the next CHOGM meeting will be a great opportunity to highlight this issue and see the governments of one-third of the world’s population take action to support the most vulnerable children.

CHOGM is an important meeting where key decisions impacting the 2.4 billion people who live in the Commonwealth are made. It is also an important opportunity for development focused non-profit organizations (such as Hopeland) to make progress on vital goals.

For example at the last CHOGM in London in 2018 Hopeland’s CEO had important meetings with various officials that allowed us to develop our international work.

However, as with all other gatherings large and small – the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is threatening the event and may mean there is a need to postpone until 2021. Africa is beginning to confirm more cases of the COVID-19 disease and Rwanda has just this week ordered a shutdown of the type we have seen in Europe and North America.

In any case, Hopeland is part of the Civil Society Working Group for Care Reform in the Commonwealth which has been working together to ensure that children without a safe, loving family are supported and in the hope that a policy agreement can be made on the importance of ending orphanage care and ensuring family care is valued across all 54 commonwealth countries.

This work has included Hopeland’s Campaign Director taking part in monthly video calls with colleagues in the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Australia to ensure we do all that we can to get this issue high up the CHOGM agenda. The group is drafting text that highlights the importance of taking action in this area, outreach to various organizations and officials involved in planning the event, and working together on the possibility of a side event at CHOGM to highlight this vital issue.

Of course the safety and well-being of the people of Rwanda and all those who would attend the event is the most important thing – but when the event is able to go ahead we hope to be able to advocate for this vital issue on the global stage. 

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