If it wasn’t for the famed Google Doodle, many of us probably wouldn’t know that it was Universal Children’s Day. In case you were wondering, it’s not something novel like ‘International Cupcake Day’ or ‘Use Less Stuff Day’ (tomorrow), it has been celebrated annually on the 20th of November since the United Nations declared it a day to unify children worldwide since 1954.
However, South Africa has a few days a year where we celebrate children. For example, our own take on International Children’s Day, National Children’s Day takes place on the first Saturday of Every November. We also have our own version of Youth Day on the 16th of June, where we are reminded to never repeat the wrongs of the past, but also to focus on the opportunities available to youth in the future. Then we also have Family Day and Human Rights Day.
So it would seem like we do make time for our youth and our children, maybe for good reason. Humanium is one of many non-profit organisations that aim to create awareness of the plight of children and according to their data, the children of South Africa are still facing ‘noticeable problems’. In general children should have the right to life, education, food, health, water, identity, freedom and protection and in 2014 our young people will still be facing problems when it comes to the application of these rights.
Granted, the status of the rights of South African children don’t appear to be in nearly as much of a dire shape as some of our neighbouring countries, but many areas in South Africa are still incredibly poor and with poverty, human rights often take the back-burner.
Children are undeniably influenced by their environment and when your life is plagued by violence, uncertainty, fear and loss it is difficult to reach adulthood without it adversely affecting you in some way. I am not saying that all children who grow up in horrific circumstances struggle to thrive as adults, but If positive intervention does not occur in a struggling child’s life the cycle of poverty is more likely to continue.
So how do we deal? Is it a question of alleviating poverty in an instant? Firstly, this is an unlikely option and secondly, in life, there is nothing like a quick fix. So what comes first, the chicken or the egg? Ultimately it’s a balance. Economic improvement alongside social improvement, in this way the one perpetuates the other.
Organisations like Dreams to Reality and many others provide a social service. Instead of focusing on poverty and problems, they work to find solutions to the problems faced by children. Empowering children by showing them what they are capable of creates adults that are self-assured and happy.
We can’t fix all the world’s problems in one day, but if we make an effort when we are able to it might make a bigger difference to the future than we realise.