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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Young people share their visions for a better future

This year the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust children around the world into uncertainty.

At ChildFund, we are also deeply concerned about the impact this pandemic will have on the children and families with whom we work; communities who are already vulnerable due to poverty.

If the issues facing children are not addressed, they could have a devastating impact on children now and in the future.

Despite this uncertainty, children around the world are optimistic about the world they are helping to shape.

On World Children’s Day, we’re sharing the views of children and young people around the world who imagine a brighter future.

Namfonh, 16, Laos

“In the future, children will dare to speak out, share their ideas, and participate in society,” Namfonh said. “They’ll be able to access quality information, and will have skills and show their capacities in their daily lives.”

Namfonh said children needed to keep pushing for change in their communities and for more opportunities to have their opinions and ideas heard.

“Experience is something we have to go after and pursue,” Namfonh said. “It isn’t just going to come to us; we have to walk towards it.”

16-year-old Namfonh from Vietiane Capital, Laos, at the 2020 Lao Child Forum supported by ChildFund.

Feb, 17, Timor-Leste

Seventeen-year-old Febis blazing a trail in her small community in Timor-Leste. She is a passionate and confident ChildFund Pass It Back coach who wants to change the future for girls and women in her country.

“In Timor-Leste, there is no gender equality,” she says. “We still use this ancient system, where opportunities are given to boys or men. There are less opportunities in terms of education and jobs for girls and women. Women have no opportunity to lead; they just know how to cook.”

But Feb is stirring the pot. As a ChildFund Pass It Back coach she is a part of a new generation of girls and young women in Timor-Leste who are learning about their rights and taking action.

“What I would like to change in Timor-Leste is this ancient system; we have to give opportunities for girls and women so they can develop themselves and they can become leaders,” Feb says.

Recently, she applied to become a member of the Youth Parliament. Her motive?

“I want to raise the issue of gender equality,” Feb says. “I want equal opportunities for girls and boys in Timor-Leste.”

ChildFund Pass It Back female coach in Timor-Leste.
ChildFund Pass It Back coach Feb, age 17, in Liquica municipality, Timor-Leste.

Jane, 22, Kenya

Where Jane lives in Kiambu County, Kenya, a rural community known for its sprawling coffee farms, it’s unusual to see a young woman entering such a traditionally male-dominated industry. In fact, youth unemployment in Kenya is high regardless of gender.

According to the country’s 2018 Basic Labour Force Report, more than 11 percent of youth aged 15-34 in the country are unemployed, putting them at risk of poverty and homelessness.

The dangers are even greater for unemployed or low-income girls in this age group, who face higher rates of teen pregnancy and gender-based violence than their peers.

But Jane has the confidence of a girl who knows she’s going places, thanks in part to ChildFund’s job training programs, which focus on the specific needs of young adults.

When you ask Jane why she decided to study electrical work, her response is simple: “Because I liked it.”

She grins. Then she adds: “I wanted to help people. And I wanted to show other girls that there is no course they can’t take.”

Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.
Jane, 22, is training to be an electrician as part of ChildFund’s Youth Vocational Skills project in Kiambu County, Kenya.

Phongsavanh, 15, Laos

By 2030, I want all children to have access to a quality education. I want improved maternal and child healthcare, and better nutrition for children, and I want children to be able to access appropriate platforms to learn and exchange their knowledge and their skills.

I also want communities to be well prepared for the effects of climate change. We need to promote the 3Rs (Reuse, Reduce and Recycle) in our communities so we can reduce the impact.

In addition, I want children in Laos to be able to access to digital devices and the digital world, but we also need to know how to use the internet safely.

My aspiration is to make sure all children in my country know their rights. I want to encourage them to develop their knowledge and skills as much as possible so they can have a good future.

Child delegate Phongsavanh, age 15, (right) from Laos speaks at the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in New York. ChildFund Laos supported Phongsavanh on this trip. November 20, 2019.
Child delegate Phongsavanh, age 15, (right) from Laos attends the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in New York. ChildFund Laos supported Phongsavanh on this trip. November 20, 2019.

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