CHILDREN AS ADVOCATES

I may be young, but I am empowered.

I have the ability to inform and to encourage everyone to be involved in ensuring the protection of human rights.

SARANGOLA

"SARANGOLA", by John Cyril Ramos, 12 years old

Before, I used to impress myself only in play and amusement. I relied heavily on adults, meekly saying “yes ma’am, yes sir” to everything they say even when I disagree with them. “This is what you should do…” “Do it this way…”, “you can’t do this! You can’t do that!” – words I often heard from my elders. I was always dictated upon. I was weak, afraid to express my own views. I did not have a voice.

Buy, as time passed, I realized that the situation then is not the situation now. So much has changed around us, especially in our society. The situation has worsened. The once peaceful community is now chaotic. The poor keep getting poorer as the rich getting richer. There are opportunistic government officials who abuse their power. Crime rates and reported cases of human rights violations are on the rise.

Who are affected by this worsening national scenario? Everyone, right? But, we the children, are most affected. We are the ones haplessly left in a tight spot. Aren’t we supposed to be the hope of the nation?

Because of the changes around me, my outlook began to change, too. I have slowly metamorphosed. I found courage to express what I think and feel. I now have the voice to state my opinions. I decide for myself. I no longer let my fears stop me from trying things I have never done before. And most of all, my mind is now broader, more open, especially regarding human rights and child rights issues.

This is probably what made me join the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), an organization committed to fight for the protection of human rights more particularly from enforced disappearance and to seek an end to State-perpetrated abuse. My being young does not mean that I can’t be of help to the organization. You might think that I could be just a nuisance, an added burden to the older members of FIND. But the fact is, we younger members have contributed a lot to the campaign against human rights violations in various ways.

We have helped open the eyes of the public to the fact that the issue of human rights is not just a concern of a few, but of the whole nation.  We have helped people understand that if everyone, no matter how young, gets involved, there will be fewer crimes and less violations of human rights.

And so, it is important that e children be aware of what is going on in our country. Let us not be afraid. Let us not remain silent amid the unabated human rights violations. Let is be united in urging the government to protect our rights.

As the famous proudly Filipino mascot, Jollibee says “Kaya mo, kid!” (“You can, kid”). So think about it, my fellow young ones. The future is in our hands.

by Hegenia Macaldo, SAD member

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