Break the Silence National Network held its annual general assembly and 5th national conference last February 6-10, 2023, at Stairway Foundation, Aninuan, Puerto Galera. The network members came together from different parts of the country, to participate in this annual gathering in person after being remote for the last two years (2021 and 2022) due to the global pandemic. A total of 34 participants from 24 member organizations were in attendance for the said event.
The convening was made special by welcome and solidarity messages from Ms. Jeanette Ampog, Executive Director of Talikala and BTSNN Board President; Mr. Lars Jorgensen, Stairway Foundation (SFI) Executive Director; USEC Angelo Tapales, Executive Director of the Council for the Welfare of Children and Ms. Sarah Staub, Board Member of Stairway Denmark.
After the opening, the network officially re-launched the E-learning training platform as a tool for conducting its regular Break the Silence Training for both stakeholders and community members. In addition to this, the network, in accordance with Stairway Foundation, officially launched “For Your Eyes Only,” the newest addition to Stairway Foundation’s animation videos that help teach about sexual violence against children. “For Your Eyes Only” focuses on the emerging issue of sexting and sextortion among children. After the said launch and question and answer, the attendees were able to brainstorm ideas on how to incorporate e-learning and “For Your Eyes Only” into each of the members’ programming and community work.
As part of the members continuing capacity building and development, the network tapped the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) to discuss the following topics: New laws related to children and Policy advocacy on different levels and its relation to child protection. Ms. Ritchel Kae F. Campomanes, the Regional Sub-Committee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC) IV-B (MIMAROPA) Regional Coordinator led said discussion.
Attendees’ insights and learning from the sessions were incorporated into plans of action created as part of the network’s general assembly. In addition, the members also were presented with the 2022 annual accomplishments and financial report by the network’s board of trustees. Lastly was the determination of actions forward for the network.
During the final day of the convening, members had an opportunity to participate in a Sea Adventure School trip with SFI’s Environmental Awareness for Children and Youth (EACY) program. The participants learned about the biology, importance, and conservation of marine ecosystems with specific lessons about the seas, oceans, mangroves, seagrass, and coral reef ecosystems. This all took place in a floating classroom incorporating practical and fun activities that hopefully inspired the participants to take positive action for their communities’ environment.