To mark International #YouthDay, every day during the month of August, we are featuring a young person actively driving change in their community!
Dates: 1 – 31 August 2015
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has stated: “Young people drive change but they are not in the driver’s seat. I call for giving them the “license” to steer our future.”
Each day, we will feature a young person DRIVING change in their community. Check out this page to see a new featured story!
Day 31: August 31
It’s hard for me to make friends here, because I don’t speak their language. It has been six months since we had to flee from Islamic State and found refuge in Kurdish Iraq. Life inside the camp comes with it challenges. Making friends at school is difficult because of language barriers; local kids speak Kurdish and I only speak Arabic. On the football ground all is different. We speak the language of the game, have fun, and nothing sets us apart. If I could change only one thing within the camp, I would like all of us to have real houses!
Day 30: August 30
An Honest and Responsive Government
I think one of the failures of the MDGs was this. I think if we can eradicate corruption from the government, that will help. When you talk about development but don’t have a responsible government, nothing will happen. Examples are number one the education system, and the transportation system. The UN is spending more than $1B in my country, but they are financing the government. What I’m suggesting that the UN does, when they want to finance a project, they should look for other stakeholders too: NGOs, non-profits and other organizations that can better help use the money. I have an NGO called “Lets Help People” focusing on education. In there we have people with low income, and we’re teaching them computer science, French and English. It pushed me to come to the States to study. Actually I’m studying educational leadership and policy so that I can go back and improve my country and what I’m doing.
Day 29: August 29
“Be careful, I do karate! Unfortunately, it’s necessary to defend myself. As a woman in a refugee camp I have no other choice than being strong. I don’t feel safe here at night. And people aren’t always what you think they are; too often I’ve been disappointed. Karate gives me strength and now I want to share that power. There are many young girls out here who need it. I train them in the camp and hope to give them the power they need.”
Day 28: August 28
Promote Local Voices
In the last few years, media has become a very difficult issue with regards to spreading truth and self-criticism to society and for creating real positive change in younger generations. Radio broadcasting in my country has been profoundly focused on internal problems with internal deceptions, closing the opportunity for passing the microphone to many youth voices. Therefore, I am trying to promote changes to pass on better information – a radio program that transmits international challenges with international solutions in local voices to bring us closer to cultural, educational, economic and social understanding and for more inclusive participation.
Day 27: August 27
Equality Between Men and Women
Having been a girl scout, I learned from a young age how to be an engaged citizen, use my voice to advocate on my behalf as well as others, and feel confident in who I am. The girl scout/girl guide movement recognizes that we are part of a global sisterhood and that girls in every country, both rich and poor, experience disparities in areas such as gender-based violence and body confidence. As an adult, it is important to me that I continue to give my time to working with girls in my community as well as advocating for girls worldwide at the UN. I hope to see a future where more women and men, young and old, are interested and engaged in issues that girls face. Systemic change can only happen when society is actively engaged in an issue, and we as global citizens and peoples passionate about our community’s well-being need to take the wheel and make change for girls everywhere.
Day 26: August 26
I contribute to this goal myself. Two years ago I started ‘La cravate solidaire’. That means ‘solidarity tie.’ A movement that gives less fortunate people the key to a job. We empower them to succeed at job interviews and it works! Take Ivan, he was very insecure and had not even the money to buy a suit. Our volunteers helped him by practicing interviews and we suit him up. The result? He found a job within three weeks. Today, Ivan is one of our 100 volunteers that makes others more confident. I am so proud of Ivan. Nice to know: all our communication is positive; it’s already hard enough to find a job.
Day 25: August 25
I am an accountant for community-based tourism in our village. One barrier is foreign language because we cannot communicate in English well. My priority and wish is to attend an English course so that I can do my job better rather than calling for help from tourist guides when a foreigner books a room.
Day 24: August 24
Caring about Nature
Country: Cote d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire was once a country full of tropical forests but unfortunately those times have vanished. Our generation stopped caring about nature but I hope to change this. Together with my friends we inspired 5000 Ivorians to plant a tree next to their houses this year. It comes with an educational program and this way children will be educated about nature in their own environment: isn’t that cool? We want the idea to spread and the conversation about the protection of forests to continue. Taking care of our planet is something we have to do ourselves.
Day 23: August 23
I’m a doctor; I finished medical school two years ago and I had to go to a far community that is quite small, less than 2,000 people in that area. It’s funny because it’s 40 minutes away from the capital city and you can see that many people don’t know how to read and write, but they have the same needs that the capital has. My work there was to be on call for 24 hours every 6 days ,and you see almost everything in that time. You can take care of a child, and then next comes a pregnant woman, and someone with gunshots. I would like to improve the healthcare system, because even though we are close to the capital city, we don’t have access to x-rays or labs, or basic things a hospital should have. My ambulance didn’t have brakes and we were on top of a hill. So if I could do something, I guess it would be to give access to more healthcare equipment and more personnel to take care of the community because I used to see 120 people every 24 hours. It’s a free hospital provided by the government but that is not enough when you don’ t have medicine to give the people. I did my best, but there is so much work to do.
Day 22: August 22
For a World without Poverty
My life changed overnight upon meeting a seven-year-old boy. He came over to me begging for food. I could see from his eyes that he was ill and asked him why he didn’t go home to his parents. He said: “I no longer live with my parents because they cannot afford food for me. Someone else takes now care of me, but this is a bad person. He punishes me when I come back without money and that’s why I prefer to stay on the street tonight.” Shortly after this meeting I started my own NGO to help the poorest in society. My dream is for a world without poverty, where all children can go to school.
Day 21: August 21
More Equality for People with Disabilities
My biggest priority right now is more equality for people with disabilities. Specifically I’d say access to society and public places. People in wheelchairs often have to share the road with cars and vans! I actually just helped finish a project to build a swing for kids in wheelchairs. For some of them it’s the first time they’ll get to use a playground. Imagine that! As a young kid you could never use a swing? It would be impossible to even feel normal, and that needs to change.
Day 20: August 20
I am an artist and hope to inspire people with my art to recycle more. How? The materials I use for my paintings and woodcarvings all come from the streets of Saint Louis. I like to wander around during the early hours of the day and collect whatever I find. This way I play my little part and hope that many will follow. It’s my message for the people in Africa; no for all people in the world!
Day 19: August 19
I am a feminist and fight for the empowerment of young women in Ghana. Especially in the rural areas there is a lot of work to do. Young girls there don’t always have the chance to go to school and when they do so there is very little to aspire for. From the very beginning their grandmothers impart them with the idea that they have to marry, give birth, work on the farm, sell their products, until the moment they themselves become grandmothers. Here in the city it is different; there are many things to strive for. You see role models everywhere: on TV, on the streets, and in the newspapers. Young women who inspire desire to be better every day and want to bring change to this country!
Day 18: August 18
What I do in Brasil, is I work for two NGOs. One of them is an NGO that helps refugees. I help them because in Brasil they are kept outside of things so I try to help them. I also participate in an NGO that takes the youth voice to big conferences, like the UN conferences. We do this because in Brasil you are not valued if you are young. I’m helping because I think I’m an important person in this world: I can make a difference. For instance, we organize a World Cup event for refugees so they come to this event and play soccer. You see how happy they are because they don’t have many opportunities to be in a place and be happy. So when you see them smiling, speaking French or their own language instead of Portuguese. You see that they are so happy. When I did this, I was so grateful and happy because they were happy.
Day 17: August 17
Imagine that you are the mother of eight kids and won’t be able to feed them… Can you imagine it? This story blew me in the face last night upon turning on the news. How is this possible I asked myself? And more importantly what can I do about it? I decided to act and started to collect food and clothes for the family. I might help them with this but I am even thinking further! How can we end poverty for all? Is it even possible? I am looking for the answer and will let you know when I’ve found it. Promise!
Day 16: August 16
I am fighting for gender equality and the end of all kinds of gender based discrimination towards girls, women and LGBTIQ people for 8 years now. As a youth activist, I saw how difficult it was to speak about gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights, a lot because of the fear of changing tradition or religious belief. But changing social norms, adapting those norms, is the only way to end up with a sustainable future for everyone. I think every young person should receive education on sustainability and one that includes sexual education. It’s an important question that concerns all youngsters. It’s not destroying anything; it’s just equality.
Day 15: August 15
“Protection against crime and violence and access to clean water and the Internet are very important for me, but as a person working in the area of medicine, I cannot leave behind better healthcare—good diagnostics and timely and effective treatment. In the end, healthy people mean healthy generations, which in turn mean a healthy Belarusian nation.”
Day 14: August 14
I believe that change in my country has to come from young people. People here tend to always look at the government to solve their problems rather than looking at how they think and act themselves. Together with a group of friends, we decided to do things differently and we started a collective farm. With this, we hope to do both; support our families and show others that there are more opportunities then just waiting for help.
Day 13: August 13
A Good Education
I believe education is the key for sustainable development, but access to primary education is not enough. Governments around the world need to think about access to quality education, and high school education in order to improve possibilities: to give youth better job opportunities and the chance to offer their families a better quality of life. Education is the only weapon children and youth should need in order to change the world, impacting their communities in a positive way. Education can empower children and youth to make real the eradication of extreme poverty around the world and to solve some of the most complex issues that humanity face every day. The post-2015 Agenda is a great opportunity to make this true and to engage governments in the duty of promoting good education around the world. Currently I am supporting the My World survey in Peru by trying to engage local and national authorities and civil society. In the beginning it was hard, but now the survey is being implemented in 5 regions of my country where more than 20 thousand Peruvians had their said with the United Nations and over 100 youth volunteers have participated in this process, giving workshops about MDGs, the post-2015 agenda and the importance of civil action. It is amazing to think that we are a force for development and that we can change the world!
Day 12: August 12
A Good Education
For the past 3.5 years I have been working in the field of education, organizing workshops and education courses for underprivileged students, especially in the slums and projects of Pakistan. We provide people who don’t have access with basic knowledge. I don’t mean a Bachelor’s or high school, but basic knowledge like online life, or personal development. We have a team of people, volunteers all under the age of 25, and they go out and do this stuff. If you have education and awareness you’ll be able to identify more issues and solve them, because education is the key!
Day 11: August 11
Better Job Opportunities
“When I was a kid I saw a funny commercial, pointed my finger at the television, and said ‘I want make these when I grow up!’ So now I’m studying communication sciences at university. But I know so many people who have degrees and still can’t find a job… I’m not giving up though. In my spare time, I decided to join UNICEF to spread the word and help get more donations. It’s the thing that I’m most proud of. I look at some of my colleagues at UNICEF and see that they truly care, and how happy they are to give one hundred percent of their efforts for such a great cause. I want to be like that. I want the government to find a way to give people the opportunity to do what they like.”
Day 10: August 10
I work at the Gender Studies Association of East China University of Political Science and Law. I planned interviews for female workers and started to do research in Changning District Shanghai. I pay more attention to female workers than females in leadership positions. Female workers are on the edge of female community and their rights cannot be protected. My interviewers contain both male and female workers and the survey is mainly about their gender awareness as well as the social supporting system around them. This year, I also become a volunteer lecturer for the Protection of Girls Foundation. The lecture took place in a primary school of children from poor families. The lecture aims to initiate sex education and give the right instruction on how to protect oneself from sexual assault.
Day 9: August 9
I have the best parents in the world. Despite the fact that they were not rich, they invested all the little they had in education for myself and my brothers. It really helped me become open minded and I have always dreamed of becoming a journalist. Then one day an interview with a child on the radio changed my life completely. It opened my eyes for the difficulties of young people and I decided to be the founder of my own NGO at the age of fourteen. It has been fifteen years since and I am proud to tell you that we are now reaching out to young people all over the country.
Day 8: August 8
We do Parkour to change perceptions. We catch people’s attention, and then we ask them to join us in creating a cleaner community. Really we spend much of our time organizing street cleanings and promoting environmental protection. To change people’s behaviour, you have to get creative.
Day 7: August 7
I work at a youth centre and everyone is welcome. It does not matter whether you are white or black, Catholic or Muslim, student or unemployed. Here everyone is equal and we treat each other with respect. We are like a little family; we play together, dance and play table football. Outside the walls it is a different world. People behave different. Take for example my friends; they make stupid jokes about handicapped people in the city centre, often I try to stop them but sometimes I am afraid.
Day 6: August 6
Country: Israel and Palestine
He is Israeli, I am Palestinian. He likes cookies, I like cookies. And even though we do not agree on political aspects, we agree on one thing: we, the new generation, need a change. And most importantly, we are true friends! Therefore we decided to start the initiative “Make Hummus Not War”. A simple dinner between Palestinians and Israelis, in which we talk about this and that and try to find human in each other.
Day 5: August 5
Youth and Road Safety
We need better and safer roads. Millions of children travel on roads for going to school, college etc. The future lies in the hands of youth. Their safety on roads is an important issue which needs to be addressed at large. Road accident is the leading cause of deaths and needs to be halved by 2030! Road safety for children is one of the most important priorities which needs to be addressed strongly! To take a strong step for tackling this problem, I became a part of #Savekidslives campaign (An official campaign for UN 3rd Global Road Safety Week) and was the strongest supporter of the campaign by gathering the support of over 32,000 people and multiple stakeholders in India through Signatures and various road safety projects with students, the police department and civil society organisations.
Day 4: August 4
Yes, you can call me the luckiest person on earth! My parents are poor and didn’t have the money to send me to school. An older lady in our village saw a special talent in me and decided to become my sponsor. She is not a relative or a family friend, just someone who believed in me. She started helping when I was only six years old and still pays my university fees. It’s strange but very welcome for me. Now I am almost through with my studies and will become a pharmacist soon. My goal is to earn enough money so that I can become a sponsor as well. Helping one another – that is how we can stand and grow as country.
Day 3: August 3
Access to water and sanitation
Country: Dominican Republic
I’m part of my Neighbourhood Association and I work with a team from my community overseeing access to these resources looking for ways to save water and fix leaks or broken pipes. We believe that by organizing the water distribution in our community we will help everyone have access to these important resource.
Day 2: August 2
Access to Non-formal Education
When I was six years old, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I am older. I told them I wanted to be a pilot. Ten years later they asked me the same question. I told them I wanted to become an engineer. But now, when people ask me what I want to be in the future, I tell them I want to be a change maker. I want to create a positive impact on people’s lives. It does not matter whether I am a pilot or an engineer. I think young people should be action-oriented. Not like politicians who always say a lot but never act. How can you become a change maker? You should invest in yourself through non-formal education. Engage in social activities, volunteer at different organizations and go abroad. Impact your friends and your friends will impact their friends. This is the school of life and it will teach you more than your textbooks.
Day 1: August 1
As a volunteer, I worked with immigrants in Spain. I taught them Spanish and we talked about universal things in life such as family, religion and love. It was then that I first became aware of the existence of gender inequality. An example: I asked one of the immigrants if they would wear a bikini to the beach and they said: “No, we have to be respectful to our husbands and other men are not allowed see us.” I couldn’t say anything about it since it was a religious thing. I try to understand it but sometimes it frustrates me.
About the #YouthNow Driving Change Exhibit:
The #YouthNow Driving Change online photo exhibit was curated by the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and the UN Millennium Campaign.
Exhibit content and photos by: Humans of MY World Photo Series. Learn more: facebook.com/homy2015