Are we listening to our children?
I always remember Malala Yousafzai’s birthday. We’re born only one day apart, so when she turned 20 earlier this month, I sat down and thought about all she accomplished during her teenage years alone. She’s the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate for a reason.
I’ve followed her story since hearing she survived a Taliban attack at 15. She has made a definitive impact on making sure girls are educated, both in her home country of Pakistan and wherever education is difficult to access.
Following in Malala’s footsteps, Muzoon Almellehan, a 19-year-old Syrian refugee, has recently been named the youngest Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF. She is 19. She is also the first person ever, male or female, to hold this position as a refugee. I’m excited to follow her journey into service and witness the impact she will no doubt have on our world.
These are two powerful examples of what can happen when we give youth a voice. I believe wholeheartedly youth can inspire action. So not only should we live for them, and try to make the world a better place for them, but we must also listen to their thoughts, their ideas and their goals, because they are seeing the world from a perspective we, as adults, don’t have anymore.
In my reflections, I can’t help but think of my daughter. The world is still so curious for her; she’ll have turned 15 by the time you read this, and to watch her grow and discover her own voice, her own objections to the world, her own opinions, has been nothing short of incredible.
This is her privilege. Living in Canada means my daughter can speak her mind and live freely. If we shift our attention just south to Central America, hundreds of thousands of children’s needs aren’t being heard.
There’s work to be done globally so all children have these same rights. Plenty of work. Christian Children Fund of Canada (CCFC) has already started. They’re leading an initiative in Nicaragua to fight against irregular child migration.
To explain: children are being forced to leave their homes. The violence they experience, paired with the poverty and lack of economic opportunity, has made it dangerous and difficult for them to stay in their home country. By educating them, teaching them their rights, and creating opportunities, CCFC hopes to empower children and teens to end this tragedy. And, youth are a big part of that positive change — youth groups supported by CCFC are using their voices to encourage their peers to make safe life decisions to create lasting positive change.
Who knows — the next Malala could be fleeing her home right now. The next Muzoon could be learning about her rights and preparing to lead the next generation of youth. We will never know unless these children are given a voice. You can help.
Make a donation to CCFC’s irregular child migration project by calling 1-800-263-5437.