Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

As one of the most ratified human rights treaties in history, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has played a significant and vital role in both defining and upholding the rights of children.

It ensures we value children’s lives now, not only their adult futures.

The CRC has also resulted in the implementation of child protection policies and legislation in almost all developing countries.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC on 20 November, we asked the children and young people with whom we work to tell us what matters most to them.

Each child identified one item from the CRC that applied to their lives, and created a work of art to share with supporters like you. 

Here’s what they had to say…

Nilakshika, 13, Sri Lanka

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“In my picture, I show the sad faces of the children who are abused. Sometimes people think that because we are small, they can force us to do anything or that they can neglect or hit us and it doesn’t matter. But we also have rights and people must recognise this.”

Christius, 12, Zambia

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Drawing of the ChildFund-supported medical clinic

“Adults should protect their children from bad things, to help them grow well and to not be injured or die. They should also take them to the clinic for injections that protect them from sickness.”

Cosmas, 15, Zambia

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Picture of Cosmas with a toy car made of soil/clay 

 “A lot of us in this community identify with this because this is what we do as we are growing up. We dig for clay soil and make toy cars, radios etc.”

Chi, 10, Vietnam

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“Everyone should have the right to an education, I hope that I will finish secondary school then go to high school and on to the highest level of education.”

Kirusanthi, 19, Sri Lanka

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“I’m looking for protection for life, for survival and for development. In my picture I show children living in a clean and safe environment. If our environment is protected from disasters and epidemics, people can survive and can develop.”

Astridah, 14, Zambia

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“My drawing is a solar-powered borehole, it is important to me as it provides clean water to my family and the people in my village.”

Thang, 10, Vietnam

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“In my drawing, a father is about to beat his son. There is also the boy’s grandmother, stopping the father. I saw this when a friend of mine was beaten by his father. I draw this to remind fathers that they should not beat children, they should love them more.”

Sujantha, 12, Sri Lanka

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“I chose to draw children playing at school. For female children, we have less opportunity and no access to recreation, due to cultural barriers. When we can have fun together, it is easier to study and also we can learn to be like a team and can build relationships with each other through sport.”

Veteran teacher and headmistress Arube Nalwimba is on a mission to empower and protect her students from violence and exploitation.

It’s a busy day for Mrs Nalwimba at the primary school where she works in rural Zambia.

This morning she met with triplets in Grade 7. She called the girls into her office because, although they are promising students, they were falling asleep in class.

She learnt they had, as usual, woken up at 4am to do their chores before making the 8km journey to school by foot.

They were exhausted before they even got to their desks, and were at risk of being abused as they walked in the dark for hours.

The girls had already been held back a year so they could catch up. Mrs Nalwimba resolved to find a place where they can board closer to school, so they would be safer and would not have to walk so far.

Their education is too important! An educated girl knows her rights and how to exercise them.”

Mrs Nalwimba

“Girls here have no role models. They can’t imagine what it is like beyond the village. So I tell them I’m about to retire and I want them to come here and take over.”

Her passion for protecting children comes from seeing the effects of violence and exploitation on the children in her care.

High rates of child marriage, violence and forced labour are among the main threats to children in Zambia, according to Katongo Mwansa, ChildFund Zambia’s Child Protection Specialist.

“We know that we cannot end child poverty if violence persists,” Mr Mwansa says.

“Children who are subject to abuse are more likely to underachieve at school, drop out and miss out on an education entirely.”

For boys, one of the biggest threats is being forced to drop out of school and work in unsafe jobs.

“In many communities, you’ll find boys out of school and involved in things like sand mining and agriculture – heavy, physical work that is well beyond their age and can be hazardous to their health and wellbeing,” Mr Mwansa says.

Girls in Zambia are forced to marry at a higher rate than almost any country in the world. Almost one in three girls is married before she turns 18.