What We Are Doing
Can a 17-year-old change the world? 25 May 2015
(Written by Khalidi Mohamedi Mngulu, Tanzania Youth Ambassador)
Friday 22 May 2015
This is a week I will not forget soon. I was very happy when I heard I was going to be in Geneva to participate in the World Health Assembly to represent the children of Tanzania. It was the first time for me to be on a plane and fly, I was so excited and was looking forward to sit on the plane and see how it looks like.
My story begins in Handeni, a district in Tanga region in Tanzania where I was born. I am one of 7 brothers and sisters in my family. I like reading and am interested in leadership. In my home country I have been a member of the children’s council for three years and started educating my community about child rights. But my story is also one about facing many challenges. You see, I am an Albino and in Tanzania, I work hard to highlight the fears that Albinos face. In my country people think we are part of some sort of scary magic. It is believed albino body parts will bring a person wealth, or luck. I want to be a champion in this cause and it is a reason I was very happy to be selected by my peers to travel to Geneva to do so.
When I arrived in Geneva, I was a bit afraid of everything around me – my first time in Europe. I felt a bit lonely without my parents and family, but then I saw the Save the Children team greeting me and realized that I am in Geneva, Switzerland a very different place from my home in Handeni. It was also very cold. My day started with preparation for the sessions I would attend, meeting people from other organisations, and writing notes to try to capture everything I find interesting. Every day as I walked through the corridors of Palais des Nations, a building with many flags, and I thought “Now I see how difficult it is to be a leader!”
In the middle of the week I participated in a youth press conference and I felt good knowing that people appreciated what I had to say; some of them asked additional questions after the conference and wanted to stay in touch. It was such a great experience! As a part of a global Race for Children’s Survival I gave my Minister of Health a baton representing the voices of children not just in Tanzania but around the world. Finally after seeing the minister on TV and reading newspapers about him and his work, I am meeting him and giving him a letter and a baton. What a memory!
And then came the big day for me. On Thursday, I spoke on behalf of children in Tanzania about health of mothers and children in my country at the Global Citizens’ Dialogue. All the eyes and ears in the room heard my story—our story. I also told the people in the room about the fears that Albinos in my country face and many of them were moved to tears. I spoke about the Citizen’s Hearings we have held in Tanzania and told them that lack of health education available to children was an important issue in our hearing. I also told them about a law which allows 15 year old girls and 18 year old boys to marry, preventing girls from accessing their full education and causing many other problems including health as the girls are not ready to be mothers.
After the meeting I was very happy with a feeling of mission accomplished. I hope I gave my contribution to the change people are talking about. I felt very privileged as the very first child who has ever spoken in this meeting in Geneva and I know of the big responsibility it was. I know that my family in Tanzania was with me and now I am ready to change the world as the Children’s Ambassador.