Human Rights Awareness Week to focus on child protection

Jennie Liles (center) poses with two children. Photo provided by Jennie Liles.

Kira Roberts, Layout Editor

Human Rights Awareness Week (HRAW) is a week that happens twice a year where the Campus Ministries council chooses a cause that could be relevant to students, and creates opportunities to promote awareness and hopefully action.

“Some might remember last semester when we working with the Imel 2 theme house to promote their homeless ministry.  This semester, we are working off the passions of Jennie Liles (junior) and Jordan Leibold (sophomore) focusing on child protection,” Jake O’Bannon, SGA vice-president for campus ministries, said.

Each day will have an individual theme under this umbrella of child protection.  These will include foster care, orphan care, and adolescent sexual abuse awareness from Tuesday to Thursday.

Liles said, “My passion for child protection and human rights stems from my belief that we are supposed to live in raw community with one another. There are people in the world who can’t help their own situations in life. I believe that God has given us the abilities and motivations to help those who can’t help themselves. And I truly believe that we are touching Jesus when we do so. There are so many people in the world who are vulnerable without choice, and children make up such a huge population of these people. Since kids can’t advocate for themselves, I feel as though I have been called to be an advocate for them.”

Liles became involved with foster care during her high school years working at a day care in a small, low-income town.  There were two kids that stayed in their same foster home for two years and Liles was able build a relationship with each of them as she fell in love.

“They have been adopted by an amazing family, and I am honored to say that I am still in their lives and always will be.  They inspired me to go further and get a job at the Department of Human Services.  I worked in the Child Welfare unit and learned so much about the foster care system, which gave me an even bigger desire to advocate for foster children,” she said.

“We are planning on putting up ribbons around campus for each of those days (blue for foster care, purple for orphan care, and black for adolescent sexual abuse).  We will be doing a Ping-Pong tournament to raise money on Tuesday night, a prayer vigil all day Wednesday, Kingdom Come on Thursday, and an outdoor activity on Friday night,” O’Bannon said.

Liles said, “The three topics for next week are known, but are sometimes hard things to advocate for because of confidentiality reasons.  I’m excited to see how students respond to the details of these topics and how their compassion and love surface during this week of awareness.”

Students can be involved in any of the above mentioned activities, as well as being able to write a note to children in OKC foster homes at a booth that will be set up in the Commons all week.

O’Bannon said, “I am most excited about the opportunity to let students use their passions for good, and that campus ministries will be able to act as a platform for students to share with other students what is on their hearts.  It’s always nice to raise money for programs that are in need, but this week I am hoping the most that people become aware of different stories of those involved in these areas so that they can be in prayer for them in the future.  I hope and expect that through our letters, prayers, and small funds that we will be able to create awareness and hope during this week.  I invite all students to join in the exciting process in some way!”

Liles added, “My biggest hope is that each individual can realize the impact they can have in the life of a foster kid, an orphan, and someone who has experienced sexual abuse.  I also hope that through all of the activities happening next week that students might dig deep into themselves and find what sparks passion in them.  I pray that this week might ignite people’s passions in a newfound way.”