Children have their say!
In 2020, Terre des hommes celebrated its 60th anniversary. Since its creation in 1960, children have remained at the heart of the Foundation's mission. The last few years have however marked the start of a new era, one that is full of hope. From Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani activist who fights for girls’ education, to Greta Thunberg, a 17-year-old Swedish environmental activist, through to thousands of others who are less visible, children are taking a stand on societal, environmental and human rights issues. Their participation is a right guaranteed by Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Terre des hommes works on building self-esteem and confidence to enable children and young people to participate. “We encourage and support the creation of child-friendly spaces in which children can express themselves and develop their internal resources and resilience through art, sport and play,” says Maria Bray, child protection specialist at Tdh. Among our projects, #Covidunder19, Clarissa and Youcreate place particular emphasis on child participation.
#CovidUnder19 : How do children experience the pandemic?
To learn about the experiences of children around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to find out what they want to tell their governments, Terre des hommes created the #CovidUnder19 initiative and launched an international survey, in collaboration with the UN and around 30 organisations, as well as children and young people. The results of the survey reveal the opinions of children and young people, so that their voices can be taken into account by decision-makers. “Children are not as clueless as you think they are. They have a voice, and no voice should be shut out. Being a child doesn't mean our voices are less credible,” said a 10-year-old boy from the Philippines.
A total of 26,258 children and young people aged 8 to 17 from 137 countries participated in the #CovidUnder19 survey.
CLARISSA: involving children in the fight against exploitation
Worldwide, 152 million children are victims of child labour. Almost half of them, 73 million, work in dangerous conditions. The aim of the action-research project CLARISSA is to reduce the number of children working in exploitative conditions and to achieve this with the participation of the affected children
In this project, Tdh and its partners are collecting 1200 stories of children affected by child labour from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal to analyse the situation in Asia. Children actively take part in the action-research: with our support, they collect the stories and experiences of their peers themselves and then analyse these testimonies. The aim is to understand why some children are involved in hazardous work.
In the next stage of the project, children, families and community members will be able to suggest appropriate and innovative solutions to combat the worst forms of child labour, which will then be tested and evaluated. This approach combines evidence-gathering and learning by doing.
Youcreate: Children and Youth-led art initiatives
As part of the YouCreate methodology, which was developed by Tdh, children and young people can create their own artistic or digital projects, while enhancing their independence, sense of responsibility and self-confidence. They are also offered leadership training.
Yara, a young Syrian refugee, took part in the project in Egypt. She spent nearly one year shut away in her bedroom. During the first days of training, if she wanted to ask a question, she would write it down on a piece of paper and give it to the facilitator. Gradually, she began to talk. She and the other young people then discussed the challenges facing their communities and explored possible solutions. “This project helped me to break out of my isolation and find a different way of dealing with the war and its consequences,” she says. Yara is now involved in various initiatives as a volunteer for Tdh.
A look back: This is the last article in a series of 10, published on the occasion of our 60th anniversary.
Photo credit: ©Tdh/Jean-Luc Marchina