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Real lives

19 January 2005: Youth from around the globe contribute to the tsunami relief effort

Lucy, age 17, in Romania
Lucy, Catalina, Rusiru, Osvia and Marisha are working hard to make the world a better place, especially since the tsunami that hit countries around the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004.

Voices of Youth Digital Diaries are all about young people who want to know more…do more…and say more about the world. Our goal is to amplify their voices by inviting the world’s children to share UNICEF’s electronic podium. These reports are first-person/eyewitness accounts by young people from around the world.

NEW YORK, 19 January 2005 - Throughout the world, governments and aid organizations have been working around the clock to help the victims of last month’s tsunami. But what is equally amazing, and less well-documented, is the determination of individual young people from Bogota to Jakarta to help in whatever way they can.

Lucy, age 17, lives in Bucharest, Romania. When she first heard about the tsunami, she was shocked. “And I thought I had to do something, even if I was here in Romania, and those people were in Asia,” she says. “I thought I must do something because it is the same planet and maybe tomorrow it will be here in Europe, a natural disaster, and we can’t be indifferent.”

Catalina, age 18, in Colombia

Catalina, age 18, in Bogota, Colombia, has been organizing a book drive. Her plan is to raise funds to buy school books and supplies for children in tsunami- affected countries. “I thought, oh, they need help, so we are going to find a way to help them,” she says.

These young people are far from the scene of the tsunami but are determined to help those who were hit. There are also thousands of young people in countries that were directly affected, who are seeing the effects of the catastrophe firsthand, and are doing all they can to assist.

Marisha, age 16, in Malaysia

Marisha, age 16, in Malaysia, used to live in one of the worst-hit areas of her country.  “I mean, when I see the footage I’m like, hey, I used to go to that beach, and I used to eat there, and now its not there anymore,” she says. “Sometimes it feels it’s not real, because nothing like this has ever happened here before.”

Osvia, age 21, in Indonesia

In Jakarta, Indonesia, Osvia, age 21, is organizing a charity event – a talent show with performances by high school students – the proceeds of which will go to Aceh, one of the hardest-hit parts of his country. “We will always remember about the disasters, and how we have to help our brothers and sisters in Aceh, as one nation,” he says.

Rusiru, age 18, in Sri Lanka

And in western Sri Lanka, Rusiru, age 18, has been working with a mobile health unit as a volunteer. The unit provides tsunami refugees with medical care and counselling.  “These are people who had their own clothes, their own food, their own medicine,” he says. But now they have lost most or all of what they had. “But then, I felt happy, because I did something that was really constructive, to help these people.”

These are just a few examples of the inspiring work young people around the globe are doing to help others – offering their time and energy to do what they can for the people hit hard by the tsunami. 

Learn more about what young people are saying: Visit Voices of Youth’s online community. Or find out about UNICEF’s work to promote and protect the rights of adolescents.




19 January 2005:
Five young people in five countries describe what they have done to help those affected by the tsunami
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