The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) was one of two regional non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that signed collaborative agreements with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
This took place on November 15, 2005 at the United Nations offices in Port of Spain , Trinidad and was the result of ongoing discussions between the regional offices of the CCC and UNICEF during the preceding months of 2005.
The CCC signed an Exchange of Letters regarding the respect, protection and fulfillment of the Rights of Children in Central America and the Caribbean . Signing on behalf of the two organisations were: Gerard Granado, CCC 's General Secretary and Nils Kastberg, Regional Director, UNICEF Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Collaboration between the CCC and UNICEF in this area falls directly within CCC 's Family Life, Youth and Gender Affairs Programme which is headed by Karen Ambo- Christiani who was present at the signing.
Also witnessing the signing were CCC staffers Allison Bidaisee, Associate General Secretary(Ag.) Organizational Development, Planning and Administration and Nadine Staple, Programme Officer for Advocacy and Communications.
UNICEF was also represented at the signing by Christine Norton, Regional Advisor Adolescent Development and Gender Equality and Maria Ribeiro, UNICEF Representative for Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
During his remarks, Mr. Kastberg reminded all in attendance that "one of the earliest protectors of children was Jesus".
He made reference to the biblical episode in which adults, who, at the time of Jesus were blocking the children from going to Jesus, only for Jesus to ask for the children to be "let close".
He also made reference to Jesus reaching out to those with leprosy, the stigmatised disease in that time. In our modern day, he added, we are faced with HIV/AIDS - to which stigma is attached - and which is affecting thousands of children across the region.
Mr. Granado said that the CCC is happy to collaborate with UNICEF in protecting and nurturing a sense of self and leadership among children and young people.
He elaborated that "throughout its history the CCC has worked with vulnerable groups in Caribbean society and children definitely fall within the category of vulnerable". "Indeed, for CCC", he said, "wherever the dignity of people is threatened we need, as church, to make a stand and in affirming this God-given dignity so be faithful to the CCC's mandate which sends us to the most vulnerable".
Nils Kastberg stressed the "important role of Faith-based Organisations (FBOs) not only for HIV/AIDS but also for making sure that children grow up in a caring and protective environment".
He went on to affirm the work of the CCC in "playing a wonderful and constructive role in development" and emphasized the fact that "many initiatives exist which will offer a way to deepen the working partnership between the CCC and UNICEF agencies".
Mr. Granado noted that the CCC is no stranger to collaborative ventures and referred to several such partnerships in recent years.
These include agreements with UNAids and the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), along with governments through their relevant agencies e.g. Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Britain through the British government's Department for International Development (DFID). Both Mr. Granado and Mr. Kastberg supported the need for, and the opportunity existing for theological dialogue around the treatment of children, especially with respect to mitigating violence, eradicating chronic malnutrition, discrimination, and emergency preparedness for the region.