Flourishing against the odds
Posted 8:49AM on Thursday, August 09, 2007 Pacific Time
Young people in Mozambique are up against a number of odds -- poverty, HIV
and AIDS, lack of educational opportunities, limited access to information
and cultural practices that discriminate against girls and young women.
Yet, this photography project is proof that when they are appreciated as
sources of energy, imagination and competence, young people flourish and so
do the communities they live in.
In fact, the participation of young people in development programmes is not
only a strategy for social development but their fundamental human right.
This is why UNICEF has always supported initiatives that provide young
people with platforms where they can make a meaningful impact on the world
they live in.
The six young activists that are participating in this project -- Aires,
Fárida, Nelson, Nilza, Marta and Námani -- are everyday heroes. Every day,
they dedicate some of their free time to make a difference in the lives of
others. They work tirelessly to help their peers, families and the wider
community with information and knowledge that help save lives and improve
the well-being of all.
Nilza is using a style of drama called 'Theater of the Oppressed' to reach
people and spark discussions on social issues. The drama performances they
organize on the streets or public places of Maputo invite members of the
audience -- children, women and men -- to actively participate as performers
and confront issues that affect them.
Fárida is already an accomplished radio presenter on national radio. The
child-to-child radio programme she produces with a group of other youth is
the voice of Mozambican children in the media. The network involves
children and young people in the development, production and presentation
of TV and radio programmes. Child abuse and violence, HIV and AIDS,
education and entertainment provide content for programming.
Nelson works as an activist in a youth-friendly health services. There, he
provides counseling on sexual and reproductive health advice to other teens
that drop by at any time during the day to receive HIV tests,
anti-retroviral treatment, and treatment for sexually transmitted
infections. Nelson and the other young counselors at the centre also
created a theater group called Jovial. They present skits on subject such
as HIV/AIDS prevention, domestic violence, etc.
Aires is a talented TV presenter of the children's programme 'Roda Viva',
which is broadcast on national television. The programme covers a range of
issues of interest to young people and involve children in the production
Námani and Marta do an incredible work in the province of Chimoio as
'multimedia' activists. They split their time between producing programmes
at the local community radio and touring the surrounding villages in a
multimedia mobile unit to present short films on various social issues. A
mobile unit is a vehicle equipped with a video projector, a big screen, a
radio. Each unit also carries tents which can be set up as counseling rooms
or spaces for focal group discussion. Mobile units travel to communities
and are used to stimulate debate and information-sharing on girls'
education, HIV and AIDS, etc.
This year marks the 18th anniversary of the world's most ratified human
rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Any young person
who turns 18 in 2007 will be among the first generation to become adults
under the protection of the CRC.
The Convention sets out the rights of children in 54 articles. It spells
out the basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to
survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences,
abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and
These young activists are part of the first generation to reach adulthood
under the Convention. With their hard work, they are making it a reality to
thousands of other children. Their dedication is inspiring.