‘For every child, every right’
Dangling his legs over a stairwell of his home in Lebanon, 14-year-old Adam shares his dream for his future. “I want to be an astronaut so I can get up there to see the moon and the stars, also to discover new things,” he says. His dream is grand, despite the challenges he faces growing up in a camp in Lebanon.
Adam’s family is Syrian-Palestinian and after his father died, the family left Syria to live with relatives in a Palestinian camp in Tyre, Lebanon. The conditions in the camp are unpleasant. The space is overcrowded, there is flooding and often times no electricity, due to blackouts. Despite this, Adam’s home is full of family and love, with each member pulling their share of the work. “My mother and my aunts are working so I often look after my grandmother. As a family we are so close to each other, everyone works to secure our living, and we love each other a lot,” says Adam.
When Lebanon experienced an economic collapse, coupled with political instability, violence, restrictions from COVID, and a food crisis compounded by the conflict in Ukraine, life for children like Adam flipped upside down.
With COVID restrictions, classes moved online but the constant electricity blackouts made it impossible to access the internet. Adam’s grades began to suffer and for him that meant he was further away from his dream. “The economic situation affected our schooling and many aspects of our lives. School is so important for us, because when we’re at school we build our future. School secures my future, it secures life,” he says.
The right to learn
Save the Children operates education centres in the camp where Adam lives. Here, he continues his learning, receives support and can make new friends. Adam describes the education centre as his favourite place in the camp, where he ‘feels comfortable’.
While at the education centre, Adam also learned about child rights, especially the rights of children like him living in the camp. “I realized that children here in this camp have no rights at all,” says Adam. This inspired Adam to become a child rights advocate.
“I first learned about children’s rights at the centre. The most important rights are to be able to go to school, to live safely, and in a clean environment,” he says.
The right to participate
At the education centre, Adam attends Child Rights and Governance (CRG) classes, where he participates in different advocacy and campaign activities and learns communication and peacebuilding skills.
The CRG classes help youth like Adam strengthen their skills to advocate and raise their voices to become agents of change. “I want to defend children’s rights. So yes I’m an advocate and happy to be because I am helping myself and helping others, and other children,” says Adam proudly.
Children have the right to participate on decisions affecting their lives. This is why Save the Children places a great emphasis on the importance of encouraging children and young people to speak up about their rights, and to ensure those in power at all levels, hear what they have to say and follow up on their commitments to children.
For every child, every right
When not advocating for the rights of children in his community, Adam is a down-to-earth teen who studies hard and is top of his class. Though his circumstances are not favourable, he is ambitious and still dreams about becoming an astronaut and professional footballer!
He is also a loving brother and son who believes family is the ‘most important thing in life’. He also thinks that his education is for them too. “I want to be a role model for my mom” he says, “because I am her future.”
Children everywhere have equal rights. Children are entitled to grow up healthy, to access quality education, to be protected from harm, to be heard and to live in a world where all of their rights are respected and upheld.