Celebrating Universal Children’s Day in Iraq
by Wegiha Hamada, Child Protection Officer, Iraq
On 20 November, more than 300 Syrian children gathered in Domiz refugee camp to celebrate Universal Children’s Day, which marks the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This statement is based on the world’s first declaration on children’s rights, which was written by Save the Children’s founder Eglantyne Jebb in 1923.
The children gathered at the camp’s Child and Youth Friendly Spaces (CFSs), run by Save the Children and local partners, for activities including songs, drawing, painting and a play that used gentle mockery to highlight some common issues that can affect the camp’s children: child labour, early marriage and the suffering of their friends due to the crisis in Syria.
The children’s activities
One young girl read a poem about children’s rights.
An 11-year-old boy sang traditional songs, encouraging the audience join in.
Children formed dance groups – there was a short interval of impressive breakdancing.
For me, the stand-out was the photography project. A few days earlier, 20 boys and girls between 11 and 14 were taught the basics of photography, then sent on a tour of the camp with their cameras. They took more than 50 photos, of which 20 were presented to a panel of child judges.
The photographic project
The photos were pictorial representations of children’s rights, including images of students in school (the right to education) and others of children playing in dirty parts of the camp (the right to a safe and clean environment).
On Universal Children’s Day, the judging panel selected 10 winning photos, based both on technique and on the image’s representation of children’s rights. These photos will be blown up to poster size and displayed in an exhibition inside the CFSs.
One of the young girls who took part in the project said to me: ‘It was interesting: I learnt about the rights of children and it was the first time I’d taken photos. I enjoyed it.’ Activities that entertain and educate at the same time – surely this too is a child’s right.