Helping us live in a world free of AIDS and HIV
By Nur Syakirin Bt. Husnal ‘Az’ Hari
This speech was presented by Nur Syakirin Bt. Husnal ‘Az’ Hari (16) at the Malaysian launch of the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS global campaign. Nur Syakirin enjoys stage-acting and volunteering with UNICEF Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR, 25 November 2005 - "On the 12th of November 2005, twenty young people including myself joined 3R TV Hosts, Ms. Celina Khor, Ms. Kartini Kamalul Ariffin and Ms. Rafidah Abdullah who are also UNICEF Malaysia’s Goodwill Ambassadors and also Ms. Indra and Ms. Izwina from UNICEF Malaysia in a very insightful discussion on issues that young people in Malaysia face everyday regarding HIV and AIDS.
"During this Roundtable, we realised that we need to contribute towards the betterment of our society. And we agreed that each and every single one of us has a big role to play towards fighting HIV and AIDS.
"There are at least 15 million children around the world who are suffering from the devastation of HIV, and an estimated 25,000 of whom are young Malaysian children. They are children who are infected with HIV and / or children who are orphaned because of AIDS.
"I am here today to represent their voices, their cry for help, their cry for a world of hope, love and support, a world free of discrimination, but most importantly, their cry for a world free from the tragic consequences of AIDS. We, the children and young people of the world, deserve a better life and place, where we can play, learn, sing and dance, fall, cry and regain.
Getting information from trusted sources
"As a young Malaysian, I am aware that the way I live my life could affect the lives of others around me. I am therefore responsible for leading a positive and healthy lifestyle and to keep away from behaviour that may put me at risk of HIV infection. To do so, it is important for me to seek advice from people who know about HIV and AIDS and to ensure that I receive my information from a trusted source. And it is also my responsibility to share this information with my family members and friends and to encourage them to always practice behaviours that are safe.
"Like so many teenagers, I look forward to the day when I become an adult. My friends and I like to talk about courtship and the time we will have our own children. As young people, it is important for us to learn now about HIV and AIDS so that we don’t get infected when we become adults and we don’t pass our HIV infection to our children. If we all keep safe, I hope that I and my peers will be able to produce a healthy new generation, free from AIDS.
"However, all these hopes, dreams and promises will not come true without the help of adults, without the help of all of you. As young people, we need you to guide us; to support us and to share your knowledge and wisdom with us. We need you to lead us to a better future, one which is free from HIV/AIDS, because we cannot do this on our own.
Knowledge is power
"Please educate us so that we are safe from HIV infection. Please give us the life skills so that we can cope with the realities of growing up and resist pressures that may put our lives at risk. Knowledge is power, and power gives us the ability to protect ourselves. Educated youth today will ensure a more empowered future generation. If we can work together, you will help free our generation and future generations from the threat of HIV and the terrible damage that it can wreak on the lives of so many people, especially children and youth.
"So please listen to us, understand our needs and be a part of our daily lives.
"As young people, we do not wish to merely be listeners and doers of instructions from adults. Allow us the space and freedom to speak our minds; give us the right channels to be heard; spare us room to express ourselves. Let us break the cultural obstacles that view children and young people as immature and irresponsible.
"Dear fathers and mothers, we need your hand the same way we did when we first started walking if we are going to be safe from HIV.
"Dear brothers and sisters, let us bridge the silence with love and care so that no person, young or old is discriminated because of HIV and AIDS.
Good universal values
"I believe that if we uphold and practice “good universal values” this world will be a better and happier place for everyone.
"Every child and young person deserves to live in a world free from the harm of HIV and AIDS, so let’s not allow this virus to defeat us and be the end of us. Because we are all that you have got, and because we are your future.
"So please let all of us – children, young people and adults, Unite for Children and Unite Against AIDS."