Father Gomes has been instrumental in formulating child protection policy and a plan of action for the Church
A Catholic priest in Bangladesh is among three faith leaders honored with a special award for their significant efforts in child welfare and protection in the country.
Holy Cross Father Liton Hubert Gomes, secretary of the Catholic bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission (ECJP) since 2017, was awarded by World Vision Bangladesh (WVB), the country chapter of the child-focused global Christian charity.
Also honored were Muslims Syed Mohammad Osman Gani and Golam Mostafa, who raised awareness in communities about child protection and used their influence to stop child marriages, a major social problem in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation.
The awards were presented in a ceremony at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) Center in capital Dhaka on March 3.
The event was part of WVB’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebrations. Guests included Oblate Archbishop Bejoy N. D’Cruze of Dhaka, president of the CBCB.
The organizers said that as ECJP secretary Father Gomes has been instrumental in formulating child protection policy and a plan of action for the Church in collaboration with WVB in line with advice from Pope Francis.
This is not just recognition for me but the entire Catholic Church. This honor will accelerate my efforts and offer me more strength to do more work
The CBCB’s Child Protection Desk, which falls under the ECJP, has arranged national and diocesan workshops and seminars to implement its policy and action plan, which are mandatory for all Catholic institutions in Bangladesh.
WVB is serving around 5 million children with health, nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), education, livelihoods, child protection, sponsorship, and community engagement in 28 administrative districts.
A senior WVB official said the honor recognizes the effective roles of faith leaders in child protection.
“World Vision Bangladesh believes that this recognition will further encourage the Catholic Church and other faith leaders to work on child protection,” Chandan Z. Gomes, WVB’s senior director of operations and program quality and a Catholic, told UCA News.
Father Gomes said the recognition will encourage him to work better for child welfare and protection.
“This is not just recognition for me but the entire Catholic Church. This honor will accelerate my efforts and offer me more strength to do more work,” Father Gomes, also a lecturer at Dhaka’s Notre Dame College, told UCA News.
“In terms of child protection, we have trained parents, teachers and staff in education institutes to identify abuse and report it, such as what kind of touch is bad or inappropriate. We continue to raise awareness to prevent child abuse.”
The Bangladesh Church in collaboration with Caritas and like-minded groups is running programs and facilities for the welfare of street children, migrant children, child laborers and child addicts to save them from abuse and exploitation, the priest said.
Catholic-run institutes provide shelter and protection for homeless children, while technical schools provide basic training to school drop-outs to help them survive and prosper in life, Father Gomes added.
Courtesy: UCA News