June 12, 2018

"A child soldier and a baby found in a shoe box - both became empowered by education"

Lian with fellow Global Youth Ambassador Mohammed Sidibay and the President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak

Photo credit: Lian Wairimu Kariuki

Lian Wairimu Kariuki

Global Youth Ambassador from Kenya

The life stories of Global Youth Ambassadors from Sierra Leone and Iraq inspired an event for young advocates at the UN in New York.

On May 30 the President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Miroslav Lajcak, organised a youth dialogue in New York that convened youth from around the world. 

It was an honour to learn and meet like-minded youth advocating and showcasing their talents towards a better future. 

The three main themes the event focused on was the prevention of violent extremism, education and employment. The one-day event included an opening segment, panel discussions and an “open mic” session.

The opening performance was from Emmanuel Kelly, a singer and songwriter who as a baby was found in a shoe box abandoned in Iraq. Today he entertains and inspires others with his story. 

We were all blown away by his performance and life story! His contribution at the event reaffirmed that despite life's limitations you can always realise your dream and make a difference in the world.

The first panel discussion was moderated by Jamira Burley and the panel members included Shamoy Hajare, Founder of Jamaica School for Social Entrepreneurship; Safaath Ahmed Zahir, Founder of Women and Democracy; and Mohamed Sidibay, a fellow Global Youth Ambassador and peace activist. 

The panel speakers highlighted the importance of quality education and employment generation.

Shamoy inspired youth to create their own employment opportunities and tap into their creativity to be innovative, especially because there are currently little to no job opportunities for youth. 

Lian with fellow Global Youth Ambassador Benedict Joson

Photo credit: Lian Wairimu Kariuki

Safaath encouraged young women to speak up and not to be limited by gender norms. 

Mohamed moved the audience by narrating his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and how he overcame adversity and is now on his way to be a human rights lawyer. 

He spoke eloquently about the importance of equipping youth with adequate skills to meet the future job market. 

Other skills that the youth and other UN leaders highlighted as essential skills for the future include complex problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, people management and negotiation skills.  

The panelists are all profound examples of what it means to be empowered by education.

The open mic session was a great opportunity to hear from young people around the world. They shared their experiences and challenges with the President and UN staff members. 

This was a great platform for the UN to hear directly from the youth about their limitations, proposed solutions and understand how they can contribute towards improving the lives of youth around the world.


We are a global children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

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