Do you ever look at the injustice in the world and feel hopeless? Have you ever thought, ‘what’s the point in trying to change things when nothing I do will make a difference’? Read these young heroes stories given below and see what they did to change their own circumstances in the most difficult of times. Here are some truly inspirational young people who believed that a better world was possible.
Choc’late Allen, age 13, made worldwide news when she made up her mind to fast for five days in early 2007 against crime in the Caribbean. Allen says her “100 per cent Crime Free Fast For Purity” was intended to boost awareness above all among young people. “I am targetting young people and those persons who have yet to commit a crime,” she said.
“There are so many young people today who can do just as well as I or way better.”
At 14 years of age, she now heads her own company — Caribbean Vizion — striving to better conditions at home. And she plans a series of positive programmes to reach other youth with a hopeful message.
Iqbal Masih was a Pakistani boy who, at age four, was sold to a carpet industry as a child slave for the equivalent of $12.
Iqbal was held by a string to a carpet loom in a small town near Lahore. He was made to work 12 hours per day. Due to long hours of hard work and insufficient food and care, at 12 years of age, Iqbal looked like a six-year old boy. At the age of 10, he escaped the brutal slavery and later joined the Bonded Labour Liberation Front of Pakistan to help stop child labour around the world. He helped over 3,000 Pakistani children who were in bonded labour, escape to freedom. Iqbal gave talks about child labour all around the world.
He was murdered on Easter Sunday 1995. It is assumed by many that he was assassinated by members of the "Carpet Mafia" because of the publicity he brought towards the child labour industry.
Nkosi Johnson was a South African child victim of HIV/AIDS, who made a powerful impact on public perceptions of the disease and its effects before his death at the age of 12.
He first came to public attention in 1997, when a primary school in the Johannesburg suburb of Melville refused to accept him as a pupil because of his HIV-positive status. The school was later made to reverse its decision.
Nkosi was the keynote speaker at the 13th International AIDS Conference, where he encouraged AIDS victims to be open about the disease and to seek equal treatment. Nkosi finished his speech with the words:
“Care for us and accept us - we are all human beings. We are normal. We have hands. We have feet. We can walk, we can talk, we have needs just like everyone else — don’t be afraid of us - we are all the same!”
OM PRAKASH GURJAR
At the age of five, Om Prakash Gurjar was taken away from his parents and then held as a slave for three years. Om was forced to work in the fields, attend to cattle and even work with hazardous pesticides. He was one of many victims of bonded labour in India, he was taken from his family to pay off the debt of his grandfather, who was unable to pay or work off the debt.
At the age of eight, Om was rescued by charity workers. Since then Om has been campaigning for free education in Rajasthan, where he grew up, and has worked to help establish “child friendly villages” which are safe places where children’s rights are ensured and child labour is a thing of the past. Om has also worked to see that children get birth certificates, a common right in the west, as the lack of birth certificates is a door opener to exploitation.
“This is our right — that they (adults) have to listen. This is children’s rights. And if they are not abiding with that right, we will work harder to make them hear.”