Report by Mrs. Amina Liaqat, Coordinator SEPLAA Foundation.
In July, the SEPLAA Young Leaders’ Club Founder, 9 1/2 year old Amal Farooq Malik was invited to the UNICEF Consultative Session on Child Rights Law Review. It was a very important event attended by over 30 very big NGOs in Lahore. Amal was one of the only two children who were there to give their recommendations and suggestions to the Punjab government and UNICEF on what kind of laws should be made for children!
The Children’s Voice Blog has reproduced the text of Amal’s speech below:
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be able to give my views. My name is Amal Farooq Malik. I am the Founder of the SEPLAA Young Leaders’ Club and I am 9 ½ years old.
When our Club started last year, the first lesson we were given was about Malala Yousuzai. 2 weeks after that, she was shot. I will never forget how shocking that was for me and Dina. But we must move ahead and not look back.
Therefore my first suggestion for children in Punjab is that their parents need to be educated first. In fact they need to be educated before a child is born into this world, so that the child is born healthy and does not suffer from any genetic diseases.
Punjab still does not have a law to protect children from diseases such as thalassemia and other genetic blood disorders before the child is born. There are over 150,000 children with thalassemia whose parents never knew that they could have avoided having children with this disorder when they were getting married.
But for children who are born with blood disorders, there are no child development programs under the provincial government where such children can be taught that they can shine above the rest.
As a child who has had over 130 blood transfusions and 2 bone marrow transplants, I can tell you that with the right guidance , children who are sick or who overcome disease can achieve more than healthy children because they have grown up before their time. If I can do it, then so can so many others.
Another suggestion is that there should be some way that children can form groups and work towards a cause as well. When I used to see my mother work in the SEPLAA Foundation, I searched the net and found other children forming organizations in other developed countries but in Pakistan children are given no such training or encouragement to form their own platforms. I really think that children from Pakistan are second to none and we can do a lot more than our grown ups think we can.
I hope these thoughts can be shared with others in the government and UNICEF as well.
Thank you. “
Amal became a SEPLAA Thalassemia Awareness Ambassador in May after attending a special training for children held by the SEPLAA Foundation.