A new declaration of human rights – by Ruth age 12 from Haiti

Girls' education, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

How do we create a just world? That is a question which has been discussed by girls in Haiti through the Lidè programme.

The organisation – founded by author Holiday Reinhorn and her producer and TV star husband Rainn Wilson – uses artistic activities to empower adolescent girls. They learn to use photography, film, creative writing, fine art and drama to better understand both their experiences as young women and to connect with their communities.

The girls of Lidè have been discussing, writing, acting out scenes and even singing about justice and freedom. They began with questions. A 16-year-old participant who is pregnant asked in her journal: “Will I ever go to school?”

To take action on this, the girls discussed taking the #UpForSchool Petition into their communities, gathering signatures to support the universal right to an education.

Other questions included “Why did my mother die?” “Why can’t people just be kind?” and “Why do parents hit their children?”

In understanding justice, the girls learned about Haiti’s history of slavery, its revolution for freedom and other revolutions that sought justice and freedom. They also talked about what it means to come together as a people and stand for justice. This led to the girls learning the French version of “Do you hear the people sing?”

They looked at the shadow which slavery has cast on the way children in Haiti are often beaten in public or made to kneel for hours on gravel or salt, arms outstretched.

Lide participants gather signatures for #UpForSchool

The girls then decided to create and perform for families an improvisational play that showed a scene of masters and slaves and then parents or guardians and children – and the similarities in the treatment.

The girls read from their journals about how they wish parents would treat children. The teachers and the Lidè counsellor then led a discussion about ways for youth to understand ethical behaviour without an adult using violence or shame.  

After studying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they wrote their own versions.

Ruth, who is 12, came up with this declaration:

  • Article 1. All people have a right to good health
  • Article 2. All people have a right to “a life”
  • Article 3. All children have a right to learn and to have good teachers that help them understand
  • Article 4. All children have a right to eat
  • Article 5. All children have a right to play

You can learn more about Lide here. A World at School will also be featuring an in-depth interview with Holiday Reinhorn about the work of Lidè soon.

And don’t forget to sign the #UpForSchool Petition.

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