|© UNICEF Zambia/2008/Slavin|
|UNICEF Zambia Child Ambassadors, from left, Thokozile Siwale, 16; Kondwani Joe Banda, 16; Luyando Mutale Katenda, 13; and Grace Mwenya, 11.|
LUSAKA, Zambia, 2 January 2009 – UNICEF Zambia, in partnership with The Education Post, has appointed its first Child Ambassadors to help represent the interests of other young people. This initiative is part of a strong commitment to the importance of involving young people in the realization of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The four Child Ambassadors – 16-year-old Kondwani Joe Banda, 13-year-old Luyando Mutale Katenda, 11-year-old Grace Mwenya and 16-year-old Thokozile Siwale – were appointed at a ceremony led by UNICEF Zambia Representative Lotta Sylwander along with the Editor of Zambia’s leading educational supplement 'The Education Post', Yvonne Pele-Shibemba. The young people completed a rigorous application and interview process after responding to an advertisement in the Education Post
“In taking stock of our programming, we found that we do not have enough child participation,” said Ms. Sylwander. “We intend that this programme will enable our young ambassadors to bring to the table issues about children in their various communities, as well as to use the opportunity to learn more about our work and how best they can represent the interests of other children.”
Goals for life
The four Child Ambassadors will serve on a pilot basis for one year. They attended the induction ceremony with their parents, guardians, other close relatives, as well as their school teachers and principals.
“It is my hope that the programme will help our young ambassadors cultivate their leadership skills while instilling positive attitudes and helping them set and achieve their personal goals. It is also my hope that the programme will spread the message about the vulnerability of children in many parts of Zambia,” said Ms. Sylwander.
The young people will advise UNICEF on its programme activities, serve as masters of ceremony at public events, visit UNICEF projects in the field, and write a monthly column for the Education Post, amongst many other activities.
“I want to be a doctor, a surgeon, and attend Johns Hopkins University,” said Luyando, who attends a community school in Chawama East compound here in Zambia’s capital. His father is the school’s principal and his mother works at the school as a teacher.
A love of reading
UNICEF Zambia’s Senior Communications Assistant Betty Chella Nalungwe said Luyando was chosen because he impressed the interview panel with his love for reading.
“Luyando was nominated as a Child Ambassador by his school and was among 10 child parliamentarians who travelled to South Africa recently and met with President Nelson Mandela,” said Ms. Nalungwe. “Luyando feels very strongly about the plight of children in Zambia and is happy to be a part of the UNICEF Child Ambassador programme so that he can be a voice for other children.”
In her remarks at the ceremony, Ms. Pele-Shibemba said, “As a weekly supplement that exists to give voice to the young people of Zambia over issues that concern them, the Education Post looks at this morning's appointment of Kondwani, Thokozile, Luyando and Grace as a defining moment in the history of the publication.
"The Education Post, in partnership with UNICEF, received an overwhelming response from young people across Lusaka Province, for the position of UNICEF Zambia Country Office Child Ambassador. The quality of presentations during the subsequent interviews was illuminating, and gave us a strong hope that this country is blessed with abundant talent for present and future generations."