Peace and understanding: our Global Youth Ambassadors celebrate message of non-violence

Gya Kungaba Fongoh Leonel From Cameroon
Kungaba Fongoh Leonel has worked with children in Cameroon to promote peace-building (Kungaba Fongoh Leonel)

Children in conflicts, Days in the childhood development calendar, Education in emergencies, Girls' education, Global Youth Ambassadors, Refugees and internally displaced people, Right to education, What is advocacy?

On International Day of Non-Violence, some of our network of young activists talk about the importance of peaceful campaigning for education.

The International Day of Non-Violence is marked on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. It is an occasion to remind us of the importance and universality of the message of non-violence. 

It is key to securing a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding in the face of increasing violence and conflict.

Our Global Youth Ambassadors are a network of more than 500 young people from over 80 countries advocating for education as part of our A World At School Movement, many of whom work in conflict environments. 

To highlight the importance of today, they want to share why non-violent activism is so important to them and what they are doing to peacefully continue to ensure every child has access to quality education.

Only last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “deep concern” over the deteriorating security situation in parts of Cameroon. In the far north, attacks by Boko Haram still continue.

The legacy of instability and conflict in the region over the past years has left more than 200,000 Cameroonians internally displaced and Cameroon is host to over 150,000 refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic.

As a response to the threat of violence and its impact on both Cameroonians and the refugees, Kungaba Fongoh Leonel – one of our Global Youth Ambassadors in Cameroon – has been focusing on peace education.

Gya Ahlam Ahmad From Yemen

Ahlam Ahmed with children and their new school supplies in Yemen

Kungaba has worked with over 200 local schoolchildren and 20 teachers, discussing issues around peace-building. 

Kungaba says: “A crucial part of peace education is … giving [people] a chance to become, in Martin Luther King’s words, ‘other centred’, not ‘self-centred’.” 

He is a keen advocate for A World At School and has also run various discussions with secondary school and university students.

Yemen is one of the Arab world’s poorest countries and has been devastated by a war since 2015. Ahlam Ahmed, a Global Youth Ambassador in Yemen, explains: “Children are the victims who pay the price of the war. 

“Some of them are killed, some are recruited as soldiers, some are disabled, some lost their families and some lost their breadwinner and left their schools in order to gain a living to feed their families. 

“Depriving children of education is a real disaster that threatens the future of Yemen and the coming generation.”

According to UNICEF, attacks on school children, teachers and education infrastructure have been devastating, especially since the escalation of the Yemen conflict since March last year. 

At least 2108 schools across the country have been impacted since August 2016 and the total number of children out of school is now around two million.

This is why Ahlam has been working with the National Foundation for the Development and Humanitarian Response to launch their I Miss My School Campaign. 

It aims to support over 10,000 of the poorest and marginalised children get access to education by providing school supplies as well as raising awareness of the importance of education. 

It will also focus on girls’ education to try to combat the rise in early child marriage.

Hwaida Sharkeyeh, our Global Youth Ambassador in Israel, reminds us that non-violent activism doesn’t just have to be linked with high-profile or famous figures. 

She says: “When we think of a non-violent activist mostly we tend to think of the people who stand on the stages giving inspiring speeches. 

“I used to think like that before, used to remember the people who through history changed the value of the term violence among people.” 

However, Hwaida was inspired to become a Global Youth Ambassador for A World At School after following Nuseir Yassin, a Harvard graduate who is currently travelling the world making one-minute videos on every day of his travels. 

She says: “Each video has a new message. He shares the videos to inspire people and tell the world about almost everything, including the things that people tend not to accept. 

“He gave me the courage to dare to think that I could do more. Through his videos, I am inspired to try to change the world.”

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