Children queing up to vote in a refugee camp
Peaceful vote in the camp

Estelle, 12, fights for children’s rights in a refugee camp in Ghana.

“The adults started a war when they had an election. When it was the children’s turn to vote, we had a big party instead!” says Estelle, 12, shaking her head at how adults behave.
   In Estelle’s homeland, the Côte d’Ivoire, the 2010 presidential election sparked off a brutal civil war. Three thousand people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes. Many of the refugees travelled to neighbouring Ghana. Today, the children in Ampain refugee camp are holding their Global Vote.
   “Our Global Vote here in the refugee camp today has been a calm, fair and democratic vote. Everything went perfectly. And everyone was happy. At home in the Côte d’Ivoire, when the adults voted, things were different. The president and his political opponent went to war with one another instead, because they couldn’t agree about the election results. Soldiers went from door to door asking people who they voted for. And they killed people. The noise of guns was everywhere.

Estelle was terrified
When people tried to pass through the checkpoints in the roads and escape, lots of girls were ordered to get out of the cars. The soldiers took advantage of them and then they were thrown back in their cars. Some girls were forced to stay with the soldiers while everyone else in their car was allowed to drive on. That’s what happened to a girl in our car. I haven’t seen her since then. I was terrified that the soldiers were going to take me too.
   The adults started a war when they had an election. When it was the children’s turn to vote we had a big party instead. And all of us participants in the Global Vote now know what a fair, peaceful, democratic election looks like. And we also know about children’s and girls’ rights. If we ever get to go home again, we have to use what we have learned. That would make my country, the Côte d’Ivoire, a better place in the future.

Portrait of Estelle

When I grow up I want to be an air hostess and see the world!” says Estelle, 12.


 
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