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The International Anglican Family Network (IAFN) is one of the Networks of the worldwide Anglican Communion. It is a forum for the exchange of information about the challenges facing families in different countries and cultures and the practical work being undertaken by churches and individual Christians.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is featuring birth registration and IAFN's work in promoting it across the Anglican Communion. See more at the World Day of Prayer's website here

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A powerful real-life story from Viva.

If you told someone your name and nationality and they didn’t believe you, you would be able to prove it by pulling out your driver’s licence, National Insurance card or passport. But what if you didn’t have any of those things? What if the only proof you had of being a citizen of your own country was your word?
Jade Cariño was born in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, at 3.16am on 9 May 2010 to Bartolomé Guachin and Marilyn Argueta Cariño. But that information was never recorded officially, thanks to a lack of 400 quetzales.
Money had always been a struggle for the family, as Bartolomé’s job as a farm worker did not pay well and he and Marilyn had five children to support. To make matters worse, the couple had been having problems for some time and had just officially separated when Jade was born.
The midwife who attended the birth was supposed to register Jade with the National Registry of Persons, but when her fee (approximately £35) went unpaid that task was left incomplete. A few weeks after Jade’s birth the family tried again, but Guatemala’s late birth registration process is complex and even if she had the money Marilyn would still have struggled to meet all the requirements needed to receive Jade’s birth certificate.
Thankfully, the local network in Guatemala City heard about Jade’s situation and offered to help. They are currently running Viva’s ‘I exist’ programme, which is designed to help children who have no birth certificate or are struggling in some way with the registration process. Members of the network, such as lawyers, social workers, or local leaders with government contacts help with the legal process and financial contributions are made where they are needed.
Since the programme began last year the network has taken on the cases of 163 children. 41 of them are now officially registered as citizens and the team hopes that the others will not be far behind.
Through ‘I exist’ Jade was able to gain a birth certificate and be legally recognised as a citizen of Guatemala. Now Jade is registered she is eligible for health services and will be able to start school when she is old enough, neither of which would have been possible without a birth certificate. It also means that as she grows up she will be able to do all the things we take for granted – find a job, learn to drive, get a passport, cast her vote.
Marilyn recently told us that Jade, now almost three, has become quite a talkative child and that she has a new favourite sentence: “Mi nombre es Jade!” Thanks to the ‘I exist’ programme she now has the vital piece of paper to back that up.
For more about go to www.viva.org 

Friday, 16 August 2013

Progress in Papua and New Guinea

Dr. Samson Chicki is the new General Secretary for  the Anglican Church of Papua and new Guinea. He writes:

I used to work in the National Civil Registry Office (Office of Civil Registrar – General ) about 15 years ago placing emphasis on the importance of births certificates – we called it “one certificate, many benefits” program targeting universal school births registration across PNG schools. I am now here at the Anglican National Office (ANO) as the new General Secretary and I am requesting partners and the government to work with the Church and ground its social protection programs across the country using our institutions and establishments.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


When Fr Julião Mutemba discovered that most of the children living on Maputo’s municipal rubbish dump had no birth certificate and therefore no legal existence in the eyes of the State, he decided to do something about it.
Fr Julaio Mutemba with his family
Fr Julaio Mutemba with his family
Photo Credit: IAFN
Until his untimely death in May this year, Fr Mutemba worked tirelessly for the people at the 17 hectare Hulène rubbish dump near Maputo’s international airport in Mozambique. He well understood the significance of a birth certificate for children and families living and working there: “When children under school age came to us for baptism, we discovered that most of them had not been registered,” he said.
“People grow from children to adults living out of the dump; boys and girls have the dump as their meeting place. [It’s] where they work, play and fall in love. That results in children being born of unregistered parents.
“Living without birth registration means that, even if children can begin the first school grades, they will stop somewhere because they cannot take examinations without the documents. They cannot gain access to work, to basic services such as electricity, water, SIM card registration. It is as if people are denied any aspect of development.”
For Fr Mutemba it was as if the children were strangers in their own land, so his church started including education about birth registration in its outreach work among families.  Parents are made aware how important it is to take this step towards a safer and more hopeful future for their children.
Iafn _moz _rubbishtipAn estimated 700 people live on the dump, which has piles of waste reaching up to 15 metres high. People sort through the rubbish looking for things they can sell. Whole families search for recyclable materials. Others forage for food thrown into the refuse. When a rubbish truck arrives, people chase after it and jump on the back so that they can be the first to see the contents.
Fr Mutemba wrote on his parish website, “My interest in social development is urban transformation, addressing the challenges of the urban poor [and] by doing so joining to those who are ‘seeking the welfare of the city’ (Jeremiah 29.7). [In] the city where I am living, there are challenges of homelessness, street children, people living on the dump, human trafficking, child abuse, unemployment, and the church needs to participate as God’s agent for transformation.”

Friday, 12 July 2013


Mmes Consolate, Joséphine and  Zelda of the Mothers’ Union in Muyinga Diocese, Burundi have written to us as follows (this is the English translation. the French original is below)

Warm greetings from the Mothers’ Union office in the Diocese of Muyinga in Burundi.

Burundian law requires all children to be registered within 15 days of birth. The importance of registering the birth of their children hasn’t sunk in with some people, for the most part in rural areas.

In the Mothers’ Union we began praying together and going out to assist women who are sick, who have lost their loved ones, or who have given birth. In this way, families feel at ease and can see that we are working in the love of Christ. When talking together, we were finding that some of the women would tell us that their children were not registered. Because of this, we have done a lot to sensitise our members in the Mothers’ Union about birth registration so that they can set a good example in the community.

Where birth registration is late, our Mothers’ Union members serve as witnesses, without asking for anything in return.

In our advocacy work, our daily activities are often tinged with sadness. For example, we had a case recently where a child had just lost his parents in a drowning accident in the River Ruvubu, We sent a letter to the SOS children’s village [in our region] to ask them to take him into their care. We have had many problems because the child hadn’t been registered at birth.

Unregistered children do not have access to free health care for children under 5. Young students find it difficult to put together their application for university entrance if their parents didn’t register their births.

Also our parish leaders educate couples about regularising their marriage in law, since birth registration is often missing where this hasn’t been done.

We find that this work has a positive impact in the community. All our members are educated to register children at birth and to encourage others to do so.

Chaleureuses salutations du Bureau de l'Union des Mères dans le Diocèse de MUYINGA au BURUNDI.

La loi dit que toute la population burundaise doive inscrire leurs enfants dès leurs premiers 15 jours de naissance. L'importance d'enregistrer les enfants n'a pas captivé certains citoyens en grande partie les paysans.

Dans l'Union des mères, nous avons commencé de faire des prières ensembles; et en allant assister les femmes qui sont malades, qui ont perdu les leurs et celles qui ont mis au monde. Avec ce système, les familles se sentaient à l'aise et on voyait que nous travaillons dans l'amour du Christ. Ensemble, on se parlait et on a trouvé les femmes qui disent que leurs enfants ne sont pas enregistrés. Suite à cela, nous avons beaucoup sensibilisé nos membres dans l'Union des mères d'enregistrer les naissances afin qu'elles soient de bonne exemple dans la communauté.

En cas de retard à l'enregistrement des naissances, nos membres de l’Union des mères acceptent d'être témoins sans  rien demander.

En cas de plaidoyer, nos activités quotidiennes ont souvent des amertumes, par exemple en cas arriver récemment où un enfant venait de perdre ces parents suite à un accident de noyade à la rivière de RUVUBU, nous avons adressé une lettre au village d'enfant SOS pour le prendre en charge; nous avons eu beaucoup de problèmes puisque cet enfant n'était pas enregistré à sa naissance.

Les enfants non enregistrés n'ont pas accès aux soins santé gratuite pour les enfants moins de 5 ans. Pour entrée à l'université, les jeunes étudiants trouvent des difficultés dans la confection de dossier en cas où ces parents ne l'ont pas enregistré.

Nous sensibilisons également les couples via nos leaders en paroisse de régulariser leurs mariages devant la loi, car ce manque d'enregistrement à la naissance provient en grande parti de cela.

Nous trouvons que ce travail a un impact positif dans la communauté. Tous nos membres sont sensibilisés d'enregistrer les enfants à  la naissance et de susciter les autres.


Friday, 5 July 2013

Child Development

Bishop Oliver Simon of North Madagascar (see note of our meeting with him below) has written on the subject of child development:

Thank you for the latest issue of the Newsletter.
I am grateful to Bishop Rowan Williams for a reference in the lecture he gave to Theos - 1 October 2012, I think - to the work of Richard Sennett, the American sociologist who acknowledges his friendship in the introduction to his recent book Together. The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation.  I want to endorse the endorsements on the cover of this excellent book; splendidly written, tremendous mélange of learning and experience worn lightly but compellingly. Sennett must be a wonderful teacher. My reason for eulogising in your direction however is that both in the Introduction and later, chapter 4, Sennett discusses particularly the experience of child development - intrinsically cooperative, he says - and the impact of capitalism and competition on their development. Inequality, he suggests, is "imposed and absorbed in childhood". Probably all this is very familiar but its a good read!