16-year-old Naomi takes over UNICEF office on World Children's Day

16-year-old Naomi Gracielle Tohon, a young Nigerien innovator, took over the UNICEF Representative's office on World Children's Day.

Lalaina Fatratra Andriamasinoro & Islamane Abdou
Takeover
UNICEF/Islamane/2020
19 November 2020

Today, 16-year-old, Naomi Gracielle Tohon, a young Nigerien innovator, took over the UNICEF Representative's office on World Children's Day.

UNICEF Niger/Islamane/2020

She is among the participants of the latest Youth Challenge organized by UNICEF and its partners as part of the Generation Unlimited initiative. Her team proposed a learning platform to help students improve their skills. She is passionate about promoting health, and her interest in biology, research, science and technology is deep.

The idea is to give her the opportunity to learn about UNICEF’s work, to put forward her ideas about what UNICEF can do differently, and help ‘Reimagine’ UNICEF’s work. She was also able to share her vision for a better future for children after COVID-19 with the entire UNICEF staff

This year, World Children’s Day takes place during one of the most unique and challenging moments in recent history. The COVID19 pandemic has laid bare the deep inequalities in societies; children are missing out on basic healthcare, cut off from education, and left without protection.

Conversations
UNICEF/Islamane/2020

“These past few months have been very stressful for us. Being separated from our friends has been tough. The corona virus stopped us from going to school, and left us without anything to do at home. The three-month period without classes have caused some children to forget what they had learnt,” says Naomi in the conversation she had with Ilaria Carnevali, UNICEF Representative a.i.

“Right now, UNICEF staff are on the ground doing everything they can to help children and communities respond to and recover from the pandemic. If you were doing our job, what would you focus on? What should we do differently in the future?” asked Ilaria Carnevali.

“For me, this unprecedented course of time is an opportunistic moment to reimagine and revolutionize the accessibility to education. Education is not delineated and restrained to the walls of schools. We need to find innovative ways to reach every child and technology can help us close the gap. We also need to better engage parents because they are playing an important role in supporting their child's education” Naomi replies.

"Many young people in the country have ideas about how they might improve the educational system, but very few possess the tools and support needed to turn their ideas into a reality. I was really fortunate to have been able to participate in the Youth Challenge: it gave me something important to do and brought my voice and ideas forward. I encourage you to continue with such activities, and engage us, the youth, even more."

Naomi
UNICEF/Islamane/2020

Naomi held a virtual  meeting with all UNICEF staff to share her views on how COVID has been affecting children’s lives and how we can together overcome this crisis and accelerate results for children. She delivered her message with confidence, encouraged the office to do even more for children, and asked Health and Education staff about the activities they had done this year to support children. Her intervention was well appreciated by staff listening to her message.

"This session was a huge opportunity for me to widen my knowledge about UNICEF’s work and to meet UNICEF staff. How to make everyday World Children's Day? What we all have in common is hope and confidence that we can bring forth change for children - because we do believe that we can change their situation”.

In Niger, UNICEF is not alone in advocating for the rights of the child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child relies on a wide range of organizations and individuals, including children themselves.

“This is a time for our generation to come together to reimagine the type of world we want to create. The community must listen to children and young people, working alongside them to design a better future. Together, we can reimagine a more sustainable future, for every child” she concludes.