August 12 was International Youth Day and a strong reminder was made about the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, the first legally binding international agreement that defined some basic human rights that children under the age of 18 are entitled to and that every government has the un-debatable duty to provide.
Over 20 years later it has not been fulfilled and as much as we may want to criticise governments for not fulfilling their duty, it is as much our own fault as theirs.
As people with access to the basic amenities (and more) that so many others lack around the world, it is our obligation to others to provide for them what we already have such an excess of.
Although this obviously means donating goods and volunteering time it also very much means giving away encouragement.
The reason that our parents have been able to build us a pedestal to see the world from is because their parents built them their own and encouraged them to fight for a brighter future; it is because they were told that they can.
When you were learning to read, wasn’t it your parents that encouraged you by reading along with the storybooks they bought for you? What happens to the same child that studied along with you at school but went home to an illiterate family? There is no practical encouragement waiting for them and often no motivational encouragement.
Who can blame them: what is the point of being able to read a novel if your mother is dying on the bed next to you, failing to recover from birthing your next sibling? By being involved in things like awareness campaigns, building wells, and teaching programs, we achieve one major thing that we, the volunteers, are not always conscious of: encouragement.
We are letting people know that they have brothers and sisters who are there to fight for their rights and help them with the things they don’t have resources for in their immediate vicinity.
We get so caught up reaching up to the stars ourselves that we forget that if everyone reaches up at the same time there are no hands left to help anyone else.
It isn’t just the material world we need to change – it is a whole mentality. Charity is a misnomer because it implies a selfless act. What we need is a mentality where everyone helps everyone else because it is the normal thing to do; what we need is community service. The Stitch Movement is dedicated to helping people help themselves. To find out how you can get involved visit www.stitchmovement.com.