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A Boy Cut Out to be a Mayor for Children

© UNICEF-oPt/2005/Bassam Nasser
Mazen discussing his strategy within the group

By Reem Tarazi

GAZA, 29 September 2005 - Fourteen-year-old Mazen Mustafa Ghanem exudes eloquence when he speaks about how he became the newly-elected Mayor of the Gaza City Children’s Municipality Council (CMC).

The election this summer that brought him to office makes him the third CMC mayor in Gaza. Mazen was the winner out of eight nominated children at the elections at the first stage in his school. He went on to win the final stage to represent his school and his neighborhood.

Soon after the election the CMC – one of eight supported by UNICEF in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) - launched a needs assessment in Gaza neighborhoods in order to determine which flagship project to launch.

Mazen lives in Zaitoun, one of the most populated and impoverished areas in Gaza City. It also faced a number of invasions during the last four years.

He is studying at UNRWA School Zaitoun Prep. School, and has two older brothers and three sisters. His father is a construction worker.

Mazen likes to deliver speeches as he believes himself to be eloquent. He likes computers and hopes to innovate one.

"All my dreams are to help my people, to help other children my age despite my small age. I thank God for the opportunity of being a CMC member - which gives me the opportunity for my dreams to become true. The opportunity that I have at CMC to express myself and to participate, I can not find it at my family and not at any place else"

Mazen promised his friends at school is his election campaign the "provision of clean water at my school, getting the streets surrounding my school paved and planting trees inside the school and in the neighborhood".

His eldest brother supported him at all stages of the elections. When he informed his brother about his success in the elections, his brother distributed sweets to neighbors and friends.

Mazen is developing himself beyond the training he received by the Gaza NGO, Canaan. He is attending training on Planning and Management for university students after his sister encouraged him to participate.

"At the beginning the organizers of the training refused my participation but when they learned that I was the Gaza CMC Mayor, they approved and I am doing very well in the training."

Mazen says he wanted to be a CMC member because he is willing to express himself and likes others to listen to him and to his thoughts. He likes to serve other children in his school and neighborhood.

Reem Tarazi is a UNICEF project officer in Gaza City



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