Amina is a 16-year-old girl from Kazakhstan volunteering with UNICEF Kazakhstan and National Volunteers Network. As a founder and organizer of the Child Rights Club at her school, supported by UNICEF Kazakhstan, one of the frequent questions she was asked by children was how to respond and react to bullying on the Internet. Her desire to help children and answer correctly inspired her to be one of the volunteers promoting appropriate use of digital technologies, handling fake information and communicating about the threats on the Internet. Below, Amina describes her volunteering experience in her own words.
“My name is Amina, my first volunteering for UNICEF Kazakhstan started in 2020, at that time, volunteers just started conducting seminars promoting child rights. After participating in the seminars, I was inspired with supporting further child rights and at the end of 2020, UNICEF gave the opportunity to open school clubs to disseminate information about child rights. As the founder and organizer of the club, I had a huge responsibility in explaining child rights and every year I studied more about the prevention of bullying and the inclusivity of everyone. Cyberbullying is a concern of children and young people: volunteers and children often asked how to behave in different situations and how to protect themselves from it. I could not give an accurate and correct answer at that time due to lack of knowledge in this area. However, in 2022, when I saw an announcement about educational volunteering project on cybersecurity and media literacy from UNICEF – QauipsizInternet (safe Internet), I immediately submitted my application. I wanted to participate in this project because media industry surrounds us and forms our understanding of everything. All means of transmitting and delivering information affect consciousness in the most direct way, they form a person’s idea of everything: rights, duties, inclusivity and the principle of life. I learned about appropriate usage of digital technologies, how to handle fake information and about the threats on the Internet during the project. Most of all, I liked answering questions from children and even sometimes teachers who actively participated in the lessons.
As a volunteer, I learned to be agile. At the first lesson, one of the volunteers had technical issues and could not demonstrate the presentation screen. I didn’t get lost and began to describe the presentation from my phone to use the best of time as much as possible and discuss case studies. In two months, I conducted 8 lessons both for my peers and for children younger my age. In total, 200 children were present and engaged my sessions. During this time, I learned how to make a valuable presentation in front of children and to increase their engagement with the topic. From schoolchildren, I learned different applications with which you can secure your passwords. It’s an exchange of knowledge. Children understood a lot of things and were happy to ask questions, which only pleased me. I am proud that I could contribute to the safe future of our Kazakhstan. I used a peer-to-peer approach because it is very important that children are not afraid to answer incorrectly or ask even the most ridiculous question. The most important advantage of this approach is that children, firstly, remember and perceive information better, secondly, information is transmitted in an accessible and clear language. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to meet different people from different countries. For 3 years of volunteering, I have gained professional experience, friends and most importantly, knowledge.”