|Abigail Manglicmot Fabrigas at the UN Special Session on Children, May 2002.|
Young Philippino leader, Abigail Manglicmot Fabrigas, can testify to the importance of speaking up. “Children are more than half of the world's population, and, even though we live in different places, if we shouted at the tops of our voices, we could really be heard, and that's so great to think about,” she says.
In May 2002, Abigail, then 16, came to New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children. She was one of more than 600 young leaders from around the world who attended the Special Session.
An emotional connection
Abigail is from Olongapo City, a three-hour drive from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Her father is an engineer and her mother teaches at a state school. Abigail is the eldest of three children. This, she says, has given her a strong feeling of responsibility for others.
When she was around 11 years old, Abigail began working with children who live and work on the street and children with special needs. She says she was compelled by curiosity - she realized she had never known any children who lived or worked on the street. But the curiosity was almost immediately replaced by an emotional connection.
As a member of her government's delegation to the Special Session, she focused on the plight of street children, the inadequate investments in children's health and education, and the global problem of armed conflict.
Saying yes for children
Highly articulate and intelligent, Abigail was a host, with President Gloria M. Arroyo, at the Philippines' national launch of the Say Yes for Children campaign in May 2001. The campaign, focusing on 10 key principles seeking to improve and protect the lives of children around the world, earned more than 94 million supporters worldwide.
Abigail had never left her country before and was very excited about visiting New York. She loves to mix with people from diverse cultures and to hear about their lives. She made many new friends during the Special Session.
Among her hopes and expectations of the experience was, “That years from now, because of all our efforts, the world will really be fit for children.”