Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

By: Maria Dieci

Every four years, the world comes together over a shared love of soccer.  National pride blossoms and old rivalries resurface during the World Cup.  Emotions soar as entire nations watch with bated breath as their teams fight for the highly coveted title of world champion.  With hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world tuning in to the matches, the tournament is proof of soccer’s ability to capture the world’s attention.  South Africa, the host country, understands its enrapturing nature, and uses it to promote children’s rights.


UNICEF has partnered with various local organizations to bring education, opportunity, and safety to vulnerable children and youth.  A program called World Cup in My Village brings the excitement of the matches to rural African villages with live screenings.  In addition to giving children a safe space to watch the matches, the screens transmit vital information regarding children’s health and their rights.

Besides the promotion of children’s health, the World Cup campaigns seek to ensure protection for vulnerable children during and after the tournament.  Civil society partners in South Africa have worked together to make this a reality.  Child friendly spaces, established at the stadiums, offer protection and child care to children who become separated from their families or are targets of sexual exploitation or violence.  Protective measures have been established across the country.  Now, all nine South African provinces have trained social workers who can identify and effectively help children at risk.  The Red Card Campaign targets families, children, and tourists, and educates them about the dangers and consequences of child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Education comes in the form of red cards similar to those given to soccer players on the field for committing fouls, but these hold important messages about protection, prevention and awareness.

Education is empowerment, and every child should feel empowered to take charge of his or her life.  Through the 1Goal campaign, FIFA and civil society organizations across the world hope to tackle the poverty and gender inequalities in education currently present in South Africa.  The campaign culminates on July 11, with a summit on education in Cape Town.  Currently, 72 million children are denied education.  1Goal strives to put every one of these children in school by 2015.  2015 marks the end date for the Millennium Development Goals outlined by the UN as well.  This campaign is an effort to make these goals a reality, because currently there is not enough action being taken.  If efforts do not increase to secure universal education, 56 million children will still be denied schooling in 5 years.


What these campaigns realize is that children are the future.  We cannot afford to lose a generation of doctors, soccer players, activists, and teachers because they were unable to attend school.  We should be doing everything we can to give youth these opportunities.  These campaigns use a universal love for soccer to promote a universal need for education and healthcare.  Because of their efforts, vulnerable youth are being equipped with the tools they need to map out their own futures and score their own goals.



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Written by: Maria Dieci

National security threats have changed face drastically over the course of the past few decades, and have become infinitely more frightening, invisible, and unpredictable.  Lawless lands, where conflicting groups vie for power, are the most dangerous threats to national security.  Violent, extremist groups – such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban – threaten both US security and the stability of the countries they infest.  What makes these threats so difficult to isolate and defuse is that they do not operate in an organized manner and they threaten their own people with little opposition.  Further, weakened states fail to provide their citizens with protection from terrorist groups because of fragile or inexistent infrastructure.

According to a United Nations estimate, 4 billion people live outside of the protection of the law.  These people may not even know what basic rights they have, let alone if they are being violated.  In many disorganized states, there is no effective mechanism to control corruption, greed, and exploitation.  Further, while some of these states are signatory to United Nations Human Rights Agreements, they have no matching legislation and no effective public justice system to protect the poor.  Those in power are unchallenged, and can strip the poor of any foreign assistance they receive.  As much as 85% of foreign aid never reaches those for whom it is intended, reveals a World Bank study.  Could half a century of development work have been done in vain?


Corruption, violence, and injustice are common in failing states, delivering crippling blows to the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the poor, women, and children.  Education and healthcare are scarce, and the youth of these countries have very few opportunities.  Without opportunity, there is little hope for the future.  Feeling hopeless youth are a vulnerable target of terrorist organizations that offer food for their families, security, acceptance, and purpose in exchange for loyalty.

This is why creating opportunity for children is so important and why human rights groups have made it their mission to provide hope for the world’s youth.  Children equipped with education, adequate healthcare, and prospects for the future are more stable.  They are also less likely be recruited by terrorists and are poised to strengthen and rebuild their countries.  Youth must be given opportunities to learn, harvest dreams for themselves, and be a positive force in their countries.

Regardless of political belief, those who are interested in national security have a vested interest in human rights, and those who are interested in human rights have a vested interest in national security.  Development must happen on the ground level with the empowerment and education of youth and the establishment and safeguarding of human rights.  It must also happen on the national level with the development of infrastructure, the creation of public justice systems and the restoration of political stability.  Only then can a weakened state be strengthened and rebuilt in order to champion human rights, offer hope for the future, and, as a consequence, achieve national and international security.

Return to the Our Global Victory homepage to see how you can become involved in providing youth with opportunity and hope for the future.

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written by: Maria Dieci

In the past week, there is one crisis that has gotten a lot of media attention: the issue of Somali child soldiers.  This catastrophe has not been on the forefront of the international agenda in the past, merely flying under the radar as something that no one wanted to deal with directly.  This is no longer.  The United Nations classifies the Somali Transitional Federal government as one of the “most persistent violators” of sending children to the front lines.  The Somali government deploys hundreds of children – some as young as nine – to make up its army.

In 1991, the Somali government collapsed, leaving the country lawless and disorganized. Children were robbed of opportunity, of safety, and of a future.  Vulnerable and hopeless, these children were the perfect soldier recruits.  Today, the vice-chairman of the Elman Peace and Human Rights group, Ali Sheik Yassin, estimates that 20% of government troops and 80% of rebel forces are children.  It is disheartening to hear these numbers and to think of the lost childhoods behind them.

In the past few days, the United Nations has taken a strong stance regarding this issue.  It stands ready to “adopt targeted and graduated sanctions” against commanders who recruit child soldiers.  The president of the Somali government has taken action per the prompting of the international community.  He has ordered the military chief to “conduct a full review” on the issue and demobilize under-age army recruits immediately.

There is hope for the children who are victims of this crisis, and for Somalia. If successful, policies developed to stop the use of child soldiers in Somalia could serve as a model for the demilitarization of child soldiers in other areas. The initial policies outlined by the UN are only the beginning of solving the problem, however.  Children who are released from their military service are often traumatized, unable to reintegrate into society, and ostracized by their villages and families.  They need to be presented with opportunities to complete their educations and rehabilitation programs so they can take their lives back and turn their futures around.

Return to the Our Global Victory homepage!

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This talk at the Harvard Kennedy School regarding slavery and human trafficking highlighted different issues including decreasing the demand for sex slaves, the positive and negative consequences of alerting authorities to possible trafficking rings, and finding inspiration to get involved with this cause.

This talk was moderated by Timothy McCarthy, Director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at the Carr Center at Harvard. The guest speakers, Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves and Ashley Judd of Population Services International, eloquently spoke about the reasons they were moved to get involved, introduced the audience to some of the horrendous acts of slavery occurring now,  and gave suggestions on what people can do to help stop slavery.


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A Makeshift Classroom

All children deserve access to quality education and to child safe spaces. This is especially challenging for refugees that live outside of refugee camps. These urban refugees do not have the same rights as refugees living inside of the camps and they do not have the same rights as citizens living outside of the camp. This gray area could have a devastating affect on children who are left without access to education and the protection that schools provide.

One such community in Uganda has worked tirelessly to build and staff a school that not only provides children with a quality education but also serves as a meeting place for refugee and native community members. The HoPE Primary School began in 2001 by a group of refugee parent teachers who volunteered their days to educate their children, while at night they worked at paid jobs to earn an income and feed their children.

Photo taken by Evan Earwicker

The HoPE Primary School is the only Ugandan school for refugees located outside of a refugee camp. HoPE School is financially supported with contributions from refugee parents and school fees from native Ugandan families. However, these contributions and fees are not enough to adequately pay teacher salaries, so HoPe Primary School relies on volunteer teachers from within and outside of the community. These sources of income are also not enough to fix broken classrooms or to build the additional classrooms that the school needs.

The new classrooms will provide free primary education to vulnerable children including girls, reduce the number of child pregnancies, and provide protection for children during school hours.

To find out more about this remarkable community and how you can help go to: www.ourglobalvictory.com.

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Education not only leads to a greater chance for employment, it also protects children, and builds nations. Education gives children options and children who perceive themselves as having options are more successful and have more positive outcomes than children who do not perceive themselves as having options. The issue of providing access to quality education is an international one in developed countries and in developing countries. Over 75 million children  are not in school. Of those children who are in school it is unknown how many of them are receiving a quality education.


A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the need for better data gathering techniques in the U.S. school system. The article stated that public school records fail to keep track of how many children leave high school each year and that records do not track what happens to those children that have left school. These children are often underprivileged and in the most need. The article alluded that children who are the most challenging to education are often pushed out of the school system. What becomes of them?  


Further, children in foster care who age out of the system without a permanent family have often been in and out of foster care facilities and in and out of school. Options for these children are often bleak with many of them ending up homeless without the chance to attend college or learn the skills necessary to be competitive in the job market.


Children who work outside of the home, in an effort to support their families, are often preyed upon by human traffickers. For these children, school becomes a safe space because it is the teachers and other students who realize if they are missing and watch over them during school hours.



Access to quality education is a human right and accomplishes the following:

  • Raises self esteem and self awareness which leads to positive relationships throughout life
  • Gives children the tools and skills that they need to be competitive in the job market after graduation
  • Teaches children valuable resources for the future
  • Provides a safe place during school hours
  • Gives children options
  • Attending school helps to prevent and ease symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder in refugee, internally displaced, war afflicted, and abused children
  • Information is used to prevent transmittable diseases and unwanted pregnancies
  • Provides nutrition – school meals may be the only meal a child has during the day
  • Provides the tools necessary to compare information
  • Develops analytical thinking
  • Contributes to peaceful communication and negotiations
  • Produces thoughtful leaders
  • Provides nations with future community developers, leaders, teachers, and skilled workers
  • Helps prevent the cycle of violence
  • Exposes children to new ideas, possibilities, healthcare, and mentors


Education plays many roles in a child’s life. It is necessary to make sure that all children have access to quality education and to not underestimate the amount of children or the origin of children in need.

Some ways to make a difference in the lives of children:

  • Support projects that benefit children
  • Become aware of educational issues in your area or other areas of interest and share your knowledge with others
  • Work with your company to develop a mentorship or other options focused program for underprivileged children
  • Volunteer to support youth opportunity projects in person or online
  • Let youth build their resumes by using some of their intellectual products with your company. This could be some artwork, poetry, essays, strategy, or marketing products 

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Our Global Victory is my passion. I created this organization to help unite the advocacy efforts of non-profits, corporations, governments, and individuals for underprivileged children. The greatest impact results when diverse organizations work together toward a common goal. Together we can achieve Our Global Victory and help children reach their full potential. 

I have had the privilege to know the stories of many courageous children who faced barriers to education, healthcare, and safety. A young woman, whose father was incarcerated, struggled to help her mother raise her younger brothers and sisters while attending school. A boy, who was physically abused and had attempted suicide, fought to rebuild his self-esteem and focus on the future. A twelve year old, forced from his home by war, wrestled to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder and to have one night of sleep free from nightmares. Their stories, and countless others like them, are both tragic and triumphant. They are, unfortunately, too common. Barriers to opportunity make it hard for children to reach their full potential and, in many cases, make it impossible. 

It is their stories and the hope of change that inspire me everyday. The world loses so many inspirations – about 26,500 children* – are lost each day due to poor health conditions, poverty, negligence, and other preventable causes. I believe that every child has the right to opportunity and that every individual has the right to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Our Global Victory is dedicated to creating partnerships that result in a better future for children and the communities where they live… a better future for everyone. It is possible. 




*From UNICEF, ‘State of the World’s Children 2008’: http://www.unicef.org/publications/index_42623.html

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