Ben inspires reflection and action
by Ben Jagaisa, 10D4
Ben Jagasia wants to stir up and educate with political speeches in the school assembly. On 26 November 2021, he spoke about children's rights.

Dear Salemer,
Only recently I saw a Penny advertising clip that touched me emotionally. A boy asks his mother what she wants for Christmas. And the mother replies, "That you don't always have to hang around at home, I wish you back your youth." This simple, yet also a bit oddly cheesy sentence sums up what so many parents and children felt during the pandemic. A missed childhood, that's what all the lockdowns, school closures, curfews have done to children and young people.

We Salem students have to remind ourselves again and again how lucky we are to be surrounded by our friends here at the boarding school - and to be able to live our lives as best we can, far away from the terrible reality of the intensive care units, far away from the public schools, some of which have even closed again.

I ask myself today how it can be that school closures are again being discussed as a consequence of the high incidence figures, although it is well known that the psychological and academic consequences for children and young people are irreparable. Where are the universal children's rights of the UN, which apply to children all over the world, being respected here?

Here in Germany, there was a debate on whether our rights should be written into the Basic Law. For me it is completely incomprehensible why this has not yet been done. Because children and young people are part of society. With our ideas, dreams and visions, we are the future. We children and young people are not just little adults, but we have very specific vulnerabilities that should be more clearly recognised in politics. These include, for example, that we have a right to education, play and leisure. If children's rights were to be enshrined in the Basic Law, then the government would be made to respect our rights more, especially in times of pandemics.

But I don't want to narrow the view too much to Germany, because actually the UN children's rights should apply to all children worldwide. If you think about how many children around the world have not had access to education for two years because of the pandemic, it seems almost ironic that I am complaining about the "missed lives" of children in Germany.

Or what about children on the run, for example? What about their rights? If we look at the overcrowded refugee camps in Greece, they still exist despite Corona! The interest of media coverage is now more focused on refugees who are trying to reach the EU via Belarus through Poland, Golo mentioned this last week.

Many children live in refugee camps and have neither access to education nor to medical care. And these are both universal children's rights. There, children have little perspective and they are trapped, without the chance to discover new things and develop. How can joy, happiness, curiosity and longing, all important attributes in a child's development, be established in such an environment?

Children's rights take on an important role in our time - because of global refugee movements and because of the Corona pandemic. Whether in Germany, in a refugee camp, on the Belarusian-Polish border or worldwide: children are persons in their own right and deserve the special protection of our human community.

Corona in particular has shown us that a country is only as strong as its weakest and most vulnerable member. Equal opportunities and active participation of children in important decisions that affect them should be a matter of course. The fact that children's rights have not made it into the Basic Law is a very big disappointment. That the anchoring of children's rights in the Basic Law failed because politicians could not agree on a suitable wording is humiliating and shows a wrong prioritisation in politics.

What can we, each of us, do?

There are numerous ways to help. The children's rights organisation "Save the Children" has been helping in the region since the beginning of the Syrian conflict more than 10 years ago. Child protection and education are the main focus, but the NGO also supports families with cash, among other things. Other priorities are hygiene education, health care and the procurement of materials for shelters.

One project of "Save the Children", for example, is the campaign that has been running for 8 years: the Scarf of Life. You can knit or order the Scarf of Life. You do something good by donating part of the money to the education of children in Syria and at the same time you have a beautiful scarf that you can give away at Christmas. Many celebrities like Caren Mioska, Constantin Schreiber, Margarethe Verstager, Anke Engelke take part in the campaign. They set a good example.

Together we can open doors and give hope. There are many actions to help. Especially now at Christmas, the feast of mercy, we should think beyond our horizon, leave our comfort zone to help the children of this world.