By Stephanie Power
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 18 November 2011—Young people in Haiti are speaking up about issues that are important in their lives and their stories are being broadcast on Haitian radio, with the help of training and support from UNICEF and its Haitian partner Panos Caribbean.
|VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Michelle Marrion reports on a radio training workshop for young Haitians in Port-au-Prince. Watch in RealPlayer|
“Children should have the right to speak in public,” said Jean-Pierre Layben, 14, a radio trainee from Port-au-Prince whose story focuses on life-saving health care. “Sometimes children have something important to say, and adults don’t let them. I don’t think that’s right - children have the right to speak.”
The youth radio training was organized in Port-au-Prince around the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which upholds all children’s rights, including their right to express themselves and be heard on issues that affect them.
With the help of some basic digital audio equipment and mentoring in writing, recording and editing, Haitian youth produced stories on the rights of all children to go to school and to be protected from sexual violence and abandonment, the need for clean water and sanitation, and access to medical care.
“The exercise of doing the reporting, of choosing the subject, of putting your own voice on the radio, and saying in your own words what you think the problem is and also asking adults and folks in authority to answer the questions you have about why such problems exist in your community – that in itself can be empowering for youth,” says Shia Levitt, a radio journalist who led the training.
|Jean Pierre Layben, 14, at a UNICEF-supported radio training workshop in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.|
Young people defend their rights
Levitt and the training team encouraged the young people to use their own words, to come up with their own original ideas, and propose solutions for the challenges they reported on. The training team spent time with each young person, and the youth helped each other with their stories.
At a time when Haitians are working hard to recover from severe shocks to their country and build a better future, empowering youth to speak up, tell their own stories and be heard is one of the ways UNICEF is working to ensure that every Haitian young person’s rights are upheld and protected. Building the resilience and skills of Haitian young people to promote and defend their own rights is essential.
“I think it’s important for me to work on child rights because children don’t really get to exercise their rights,” says Esther Casneuve, 15, whose story focuses on the health problems related to garbage. “Even if it’s not all the time, I would like to help children obtain their rights.”