Martha, Bercky, Ebude and Keranso are heading for the small fishing village of Kange, on an island in Cameroon. They’re singing at the tops of their voices to drown out the noise of the boat’s engine.
“We are World’s Children’s Prize Child Rights Ambassadors,” explains 15-year-old Bercky. “We travel to poor and isolated places to teach children about their rights, which they wouldn’t know about otherwise.”
Girls count, too!
As ambassadors, we travel around explaining about child rights and that everyone – even girls – has the right to go to school. We often use The Globe’s story about the former prize-winner Malala, the girl from Pakistan who fights for girls’ rights. It works very well for us, as things are similar here in Cameroon. Here, too, girls don’t count. Poor pupils can sometimes be isolated at school. They might feel inferior and be afraid to speak out or answer questions. If you’re also a girl and poor, things are even worse. We tell girls and their families that girls are worth just as much as boys, and are entitled to have their voices heard. We can actually see that things are slowly but steadily changing for the better thanks to our work. Girls are starting to count and to be treated with respect in areas where we’ve been. My dream is to be a nurse in my own hospital for poor people, and to help people for free.
Ebude, 15, WCP Child Rights Ambassador, Koel Bilingual Institute, Tiko
Boys should help!
There are many violations of child rights here. Many poor children can’t afford to go to school. Some of them work by cleaning cars and taxi motorbikes, while others work at the rubber factory, collect scrap iron which they then sell, fish or work in agriculture. It’s important that we, the Child Rights Ambassadors, explain that every child has the right to go to school. Children shouldn’t work! Here, it’s also common for poor parents to force their daughters to marry while they’re still children. The man who marries the girl pays a dowry to her parents. They sell girls as if they were goods. That’s not right. A girl should go to school so she can have a good life. So she can get a job, support herself and live her dream, instead of just looking after her husband and the home. Here, girls do nearly all the household chores, like cleaning, cooking, washing-up and laundry. They almost never have any time to meet their friends or do homework. That’s wrong! As boys, it’s important that we help out at home so the girls have more time to themselves. That way, things will be fairer. My dream is to become an engineer and build factories where people can get a job, since there are so many unemployed people here.
Keranso, 15, WCP Child Rights Ambassador, Koel Bilingual Institute, Tiko