On International Youth Day (12 August) we’re calling for governments to listen to the voices of ALL young people, no matter their background, to help bring positive change to the world.
It is estimated there are 150 million children living and working on the streets worldwide. Instead of receiving protection and support, these children are often stigmatised, marginalised and mistreated.
Earlier this year, the Street Child Games (mini-Olympics) used the power of the sport to provide a global platform for former street children from nine countries to be seen and their voices heard.
“We have been crying for a lot of years. Now at last our voices are being heard”, said Erica, a former street child from the Philippines.
Alongside the Olympic-themed sports, a unique Congress enabled the young people to share their experiences together and find solutions to improve the lives of street children in their countries and around the world.
Ahmad Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy for Youth said, “The Congress gives a community of youth a chance to have meaningful discussions about the real risks and struggles facing young people today.”
Vianey, representing Burundi said, “The fact of meeting young people like me from other countries is a great thing, we share our thoughts and issues; we put them together and find solutions to them.”
Mozambique’s Raquelina said, “At the Congress I felt free and also I felt empowered. That means, saying what is in my heart.”
“Saying the things that I think and feel. What is supposed to change, in terms of government so there are no kids on the streets.”
At the Congress the young people produced the Rio Resolution, a set of nine demands addressing the rights most frequently denied to children in street situations: the right to protection from violence, the right to education and the right to a legal identity.
The Rio Resolution has since been recognised by the United Nations. The Secretary General’s Envoy for Youth said, “I’ve read the Rio Resolution with great interest and I find it truly inspiring. We take good note of the Resolution and we will reflect in our work as appropriate.”
The young people concluded the Street Child Games with a powerful message to the millions of children still living and working on the streets:
“Street children across the world this is our message to you. You need to believe in your dreams. Never give up. You are strong. You are important. We are somebody.”
The young people continue to use the Rio Resolution in their countries to remind governments of their commitment to all children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Photos by Malachy McCrudden, Chris Cellier, Kylie Milne and Gustavo Oliviera