Plan Youth
Fatmata’s story of violence and determination
Fatmata is one of the 9 Plan-supported girl delegates at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women
My name is Fatmata, I am 17 yrs, and I now live in a small town in Sierra Leone. I will tell you a story about my life from when I was 11.
I was living with my uncle in the capital city, by then I had just taken my NPSE Exams (National Exams that will take you to Secondary School.) My uncle had a wife, and they had two children. In their house the children were lazy and did nothing, so I had to do all the domestic work and chores.
All this was before I went to school. I had no time to study, and I was always late for school. That made me drop my academic work and get bad grades. My aunt flogged me (which is a term to beat or torture a child). Corporal Punishment is common in Sierra Leone. She used different items like a cane, a barbilon, her slippers, or a stick.
But by then I was too young to communicate with my mother and tell her what was happening, and she was living in my hometown. My teacher noticed I was always late to school and getting bad grades, so she asked me why. I explained to her that my aunt was beating me and making me do all the chores. She helped me write a letter to my mother, and we sent it to her. She sent my grandmother to come and take me from my uncle.
So finally I was taken from the city to another part of Sierra Leone. I continued my life with my parents. I went to school in the town. I am in secondary school now, and about to graduate. I get good grades and in the future I want to go to university and become an accountant.
My uncle sometimes comes to visit us, and tells my grandmother he is going to take me back to live with them in the city. I know my rights, so I tell him “No, I am not going!” My grandmother does not want me to go with him either.
In the future I want to live in a city, get married, and have 3 kids. My mother felt bad because she wasn’t expecting my uncle to do this to me because he was my faimly member.

Fatmata’s story of violence and determination

Fatmata is one of the 9 Plan-supported girl delegates at the 56th Commission on the Status of Women

My name is Fatmata, I am 17 yrs, and I now live in a small town in Sierra Leone. I will tell you a story about my life from when I was 11.

I was living with my uncle in the capital city, by then I had just taken my NPSE Exams (National Exams that will take you to Secondary School.) My uncle had a wife, and they had two children. In their house the children were lazy and did nothing, so I had to do all the domestic work and chores.

All this was before I went to school. I had no time to study, and I was always late for school. That made me drop my academic work and get bad grades. My aunt flogged me (which is a term to beat or torture a child). Corporal Punishment is common in Sierra Leone. She used different items like a cane, a barbilon, her slippers, or a stick.

But by then I was too young to communicate with my mother and tell her what was happening, and she was living in my hometown. My teacher noticed I was always late to school and getting bad grades, so she asked me why. I explained to her that my aunt was beating me and making me do all the chores. She helped me write a letter to my mother, and we sent it to her. She sent my grandmother to come and take me from my uncle.

So finally I was taken from the city to another part of Sierra Leone. I continued my life with my parents. I went to school in the town. I am in secondary school now, and about to graduate. I get good grades and in the future I want to go to university and become an accountant.

My uncle sometimes comes to visit us, and tells my grandmother he is going to take me back to live with them in the city. I know my rights, so I tell him “No, I am not going!” My grandmother does not want me to go with him either.

In the future I want to live in a city, get married, and have 3 kids. My mother felt bad because she wasn’t expecting my uncle to do this to me because he was my faimly member.

Girls speak out at the UN!

Plan is supporting 9 girls from rural communities across the world to share the harsh reality of their lives at the UN in New York this week.

They are from Cambodia, Cameroon, Malawi, Pakistan and Sierra Leone. They will tell the Commission on the Status of Women* (CSW), of the daily challenges girls face in their communities – from early and forced marriage to polygamy and domestic violence. They will also tell the UN and the other delegates what they want to see happen to improve the lives of girls.

Follow their activities at the CSW at http://bcimagirl.tumblr.com/ and on Twitter @planglobal

Speech by Andre 15yr Old from the Philippines at the Closing Ceremony of the #gpdrr2011 Global Platform

Speech by Andre 15yr Old from the Philippines at the Closing Ceremony of the 2011 Global Platform

Good Morning, I am here to give my message on behalf of my co-children participants from Kenya and the Philippines and from all children in the world. We attended this Global Platform in order to fight for the rights of young people to participate in issues affecting our lives and rights, especially about climate change and disasters.

In our country, we are vulnerable to various calamities such as earthquakes, typhoons, storm surges, and many others. During Typhoons, lives and properties are destroyed, classes stopped, and our right for education and peaceful living is violated.  That’s why children like me got involved with disaster risk reduction activities. We planted trees to prevent landslide and mangroves to weaken storm surges. We separate our rubbish to avoid blocked drainages and floods in our community. We also held community gatherings showing films in order to raise the awareness of our community against disasters.

At the global platform, we learned a lot on how to improve our knowledge on disaster risk reduction. We have learnt many things people around the world do in order to fight disasters while sharing some ideas of our own. We learned to value life and our planet, we also learned how to help more in saving our communities from calamities in our own practical ways.

As children, we would like the adults to prioritize children on disaster risk reduction. Being the most vulnerable sector of society when it comes to disaster actions and plans should be made together with the children in order to ensure our safety. Child protection is a must, before during and after a disaster. Education is the most important way of sending information about disaster risk reduction so schools must be safe and education must not be interrupted. As a result, please focus your disaster risk reductions on practical measures to achieve these goals. The future of children depends upon your actions today.

Thank you.

Speech by 14 year old Trisha, from the Philippines at the #gpdrr2011 #UN ISDR Global Platform

Speech by 14 year old Trisha, from the Philippines at the 2011 UNISDR Global Platform (Children and Resilience Featured Event)

 

One  key element in reducing the risks of disasters is through education. It is the simplest yet the most helpful way for children to know about Disaster Risk Reduction.

DRR education should be taught  in schools especially in the Philippines, where I come from, since it is situated in a location prone to natural calamities and disasters.

We are most vulnerable to disasters like tropical cyclones, flash floods, tidal waves, drought, volcanic eruptions that strike – and then classes have to be suspended, some children end up starving, some are left homeless and even some die.

I remember back in 2009 when Typhoon Ondoy and Peping hit the Philippines, these two typhoons caused devastation in our country. So much rain and strong winds destroyed lives and properties of people mostly in the Luzon Provinces. It was horrifying when I saw how houses and schools were washed out because of the flood and even how people struggled to survive. We were lucky we escaped.

Our municipality was far from the typhoon but we were affected because they are Filipinos like me especially those young people who lost their rights. It could have been us.

For that, in our own small way, student leaders in our school initiated to collect donations in cash or in kind for the victims especially the children.

This disaster really made me learn, that it is not easy to be victims, and that not all people know about disaster risk reduction. That is why I believe disaster risk reduction should be taught in schools, so people don’t have to suffer like those did in Luzon. In my opinion, I believe these are some things that could help in reducing risks of disasters and keeping young people like me safe:

1)      DRR should be a priority for everyone – from young to old. Everyone should pay more attention to DRR

2)      DRR education is important since it helps children and adults know what can happened and then what to do to stop this from happening or how to act after it happens. Children must also play a big role in DRR

3)      Risk assessments also should be done because we cannot prevent these disasters but we can minimize its effects to people

4)      Lastly, children must have the knowledge on what to do and how to respond to these disasters

We play a very big role for the future and we have opinions concerning about DRR that we feel should be heard. I believe too that we can do so much more than adults can.

I hope all delegates at the Global Platform sign up to the Children’s Charter and pledge to prioritise and support us the children in disaster riks reduction

We count on you!

Thank you!

Speech by 15 year old Andrew, from the Philippines at the 2011 UNISDR Global Platform (Children and Resilience Featured Event)

The Philippines is a country very vulnerable when it comes to disasters being adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and situated on the Pacific ring of fire. We have the risks of calamities like earthquakes, typhoons, storm surges, landslides, flash floods, and many others. Allow me to share my experience when a Typhoon struck our community.

It was raining hard and the wind blew violently. Leaves, barks, and trees were falling everywhere. Classes were suspended and when our classes resumed we had a hard time going to school because the roads were damaged. Our school was flooded and we spent our time cleaning our school rather than attending our classes. This scenario is widespread throughout my country when a Typhoon is visiting us. Just like what Trisha has shared, and the experience of the children in St Bernard, where children were buried inside their school, the effects of these disasters greatly affects the lives of children like us and our right to education and to live without fear. Given all this I was encouraged to join our school-based organisation called DRR Youth Council which aims to reduce the risks affecting children and our communities.

As a member, we have been doing several activities for the past years. We coordinate with the village and municipal officials in order to discuss our concerns and pose our suggested solutions to these problems. In that way, the officials of our community can easily solve our concerns because they know what the problems we are facing are. We also participate in risk assessments like hazard mapping where we identify the risks in our community. We also have established our own early warning systems like rain gauges which tell us if we should evacuate during a rainy day or not and bells which warn people of an upcoming disaster. Education about disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation for other boys and girls is also our priority. We tell children about disasters and climate change and how to adapt to them. In our school we also do disaster mitigation activities like tree and mangrove growing, coastal clean-up and proper waste management. In case of disasters, we also use our knowledge about first aid and different calamity drills to respond to disasters properly and help other people in need. This is the essence of disaster risk reduction, not only saving ourselves but also saving others the best way we can.

I have learned many things since I became an advocate of disaster risk reduction – from how we can do things to save our planet from future destruction, to valuing the lives of each individual. For this, I would like to say thanks to my teachers who encouraged me to join the DRR group, thanks to our local government unit who supports every activity that we make, and to everyone who helped in the success of our small actions, but I can proudly say that our work has helped our people, our community, and perhaps the world as well.

I hope all the participants at the Global Platform will support and commit to the children’s charter which will help in saving more children from the effects of disasters.

Thank you!

"Tricia taking the stage at the round table at the Global Platform arguing the importance of listening to children" #gpdrr2011

"Tricia taking the stage at the round table at the Global Platform arguing the importance of listening to children" #gpdrr2011

Children’s Charter - ‘what we need to stay safe in disasters’.

Children in disaster prone countries have named safer school buildings as a top priority in emergencies, new research has found.

The research involving more than 600 children in 21 countries identified education, child protection and access to basic information as the main needs to reduce the devastating impact of disasters and climate change upon their families and communities.

5-point Charter

The findings have now gone into a new 5-point Charter to be presented to those gathering for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction meeting in Geneva on 9-13 May.

Governments, donors and international agencies will be asked to sign, support and report back on the Charter which states:

• Schools must be safe and education must not be interrupted
• Child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster
• Children’s right to participate and access to information must be met
• Community infrastructure must be safe, and relief and reconstruction must help reduce future risk
• Disaster risk reduction must reach the most vulnerable

Safer schools top priority

In the research, children asked for schools to be built in safer places and on higher ground in flood and tsunami-vulnerable regions. They also called for protection of vital learning materials, safe places to play and learn and swift relocation and rebuilding of schools when required. They also wanted sturdier infrastructure like better roads and bridges in their communities.

They also asked to be given more life-saving information about what to do when disasters struck and asked for better protection of children and the most vulnerable including psycho-social support after disasters. Children identified gaps in existing protection systems. They gave examples of children, including some with disabilities, being ‘locked in homes’ and unable to access basic information needed for survival.

Children and climate change

Children make up more than half the population in countries predicted to be most affected by climate change and are facing increasing impacts from disastrous events.  It is estimated that by 2030, 175 million children a year will be affected by disasters.

UNICEF, Plan International, World Vision and Save the Children (working together as Children in a Changing Climate) along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies say it is essential to include children’s unique experiences of climate change impact in both adaptation and mitigation policy and practice.

The Coalition calls for governments to ensure children’s rights, needs and capacities are fully recognised in any future agreements. It recommends that their priorities are reflected in existing and new policies and programmes dealing with disasters and development.

Future leaders

“Our work shows that children need to be involved in decision-making because they are very concerned about the state of the environment and impact of disasters. They take a long term view and they are passionate about turning ideas into action.  Moreover, children are future leaders and decision makers– those involved today will become a generation better prepared for disasters of tomorrow,” said Dr Nick Hall, Plan’s Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor.

The consultations were held in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Philippines, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Find out more at: www.ChildreninaChangingClimate.org

Editor’s Notes:

Selected quotes from children taking part in the consultation:

On school:
“I felt unhappy when I saw the school destroyed by the storm. I did not go to school because the school was destroyed. It happened at night and in the morning my friend and I went to school and found it had been destroyed.” (child from Lao PDR)

On infrastructure:
“Build bridges because every year children miss school in the rainy season when they have to cross gullies, rivers and water channels huge enough to drown them.” (child from Lesotho)

On child protection:
“We do not feel protected by anyone in our community.” (child from Mozambique). In India, children suggested training in life-skills which they feel would “enable them to protect themselves from risks and troubles” and that they be provided special care when they are traumatized by disasters.

On participation:
 “Children and people with disability…are considered a ‘curse’ and… kept indoors…deprived of the right to participate and education, hence they become more vulnerable.’” (child from Lesotho)

On the vulnerable:
“In my area, there were three children about 4-5 years old.  Once they went on the river dyke to avoid the flood water but they slipped and fell in the river and drowned because they could not swim.” (child from Philippines)

Children in a Changing Climate is a coalition of leading child-focused research, development and humanitarian organisations each with a commitment to share knowledge, coordinate activities and work with children as agents of change.

We are committed to effective protection and meaningful participation of children and young people in our changing climate. www.ChildreninaChangingClimate.org 

Plan International, through its Philippine Office, has touched so many children's lives. I would like to share my personal testimony on the way Plan has influenced my life. (http://athousandblots.blogspot.com/2011/04/plan-international-buklod-and-community.html)

Thank you so much for reaching out, can you resend the blog link as it doesnt seem to be working.

André, 15

André, 15

André at the Global Platform

Andre is 16 and from San Francisco in Camotes, Phillipines. He is a youth delegate at the Global Platform supported by the Children in a Changing Climate Coalition

Being a student, I believe that children play a vital role in achieving the goals of Disaster Risk Reduction. In our municipality, the youth don’t just sit back and wait for what the adults will say but we really do something for the environment and we participate actively in issues affecting the youth and our community, especially in reducing damages inflicted by disasters.

Our advocacy in protecting our community proved to be successful so I hope that other communities around the world will give children a chance to support and share our ideas.

The Global Platform is a good opportunity to discuss all the concerns about DRR, and I hope that this will be the start of hearing the voice of the youth for the welfare of everybody and the next generations to come.

Andre will be speaking alongside the 2 other youth delegates at the Children and Resilience Roundtable on Thursday 12th May.

Tricia Mae Plenos, 14.

Tricia Mae Plenos, 14.