Alhendawi was in South Africa last week for the One Young World Summit in Johannesburg. His role at the UN is to focus on the needs and rights of young people. He hopes that young people’s voices will be heard by the UN, so that they will help influence UN policies, initiatives and programmes.
When Alhendawi visited the SOS Children’s Village last Friday, the village director, Soka Matlala, took him on a tour of the homes, library and nursery. Soka explained how the programmes work, and how they benefit the children and young people in SOS Children’s care.
“The UN is here to listen to the youth”
While at the SOS Children’s Village Mamelodi, Alhendawi took the opportunity to talk with the young people there, who he thinks of as “the people who can tell the story”. The discussions were lively, and included what the young people’s interests and future plans are.
Emphasising a commitment that young people’s voices will be heard, Alhendawi said: “The UN is here to listen to the youth and support your work.” Alhendawi explained how the UN cabinet works, to young people living in the Village, as well as others from nearby SOS facilities and programmes, and ten SOS young people from other African countries.
The young participants asked about opportunities within the UN and what they could do to improve the lives of the next generation. Alhendawi suggested that they “advise the UN on how to address the challenges that young people encounter.” He urged them to be part of the UN and interact with the organisation.
A lively discussion with young people from African countries
A young man from Burundi explained, “when you grew up in an institution, it is hard to adapt to society.” He urged the UN to financially assist African countries because “Africans have brilliant ideas but lack funds.” Alhendawi assured him that “youth do form part of the UN budget”.
Another young person, from South Africa, commenting on the issue of unemployment, said: “The youth should get up and get things for themselves". Alhendawi elaborated the idea and said, “Young people should be innovative, create jobs and take risks.”As he concluded his visit, Alhendawi emphasised the importance of education, and encouraged the young people to focus on educating and empowering themselves.
SOS Children in South Africa
SOS Children has been helping young people in South Africa to empower themselves since the early 1980's, with supporters of our work there including Nelson Mandela. We provide a home for children who cannot live with their own parents, as well as quality education and healthcare. In the local communities, we support families via a range of tailored services that are responsive to their individual needs.
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