Terre des Hommes International Federation is happy to announce the launch of their 2019 Annual Report. The report highlights some of the fantastic flagship projects that have been carried out across the world. From fighting child labour, FGM and exploitation to defending children’s rights in the justice system to providing care in humanitarian crises. It was also a year when children as advocates for change played a crucial part in our activities.

Konstantinos Papachristou an 18 year old Youth advocate gives a sterling foreword, part reflection and part call to action:

Looking back to 2019 everything feels and is so different, when the year ended nobody would have expected what the next months would lead up to.

We were all celebrating the start of the new year but at that time what would follow would sound as a dystopian science fiction film, but unfortunately it isn’t.

So far 2020 could definitely be described as life changing, the pandemic has altered the way we work, we teach, we socialise and mostly the way we live. The challenges that have emerged from COVID-19 are truly numerous ;  It not only poses a great threat to our lives (Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have died from COVID) but  also threatens our own identity and future. COVID-19 could easily be seen as a wake-up call for us to appreciate and understand the things that truly matter, things such as the healthcare and educational systems around the world that have been neglected for years. So far, around 1.6 billion children from all around the world were affected by school disruptions while an additional 23.8 million children may drop out or not have access to school next year due to the pandemic’s economic impact.

The Coronavirus has halted the progress we made in human rights and will take humanity back to square one. In addition to that, the necessary lockdown measures will potentially lead to an unprecedented incoming economic crisis that may result into a “lost generation”. According to world bank, in their more “optimistic” report, COVID-19 will push 71 million people into extreme poverty. It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a generation defining year and COVID is the biggest crisis we have faced in our lifetime, but I am a true believer in the idea that with every crisis comes an opportunity. An opportunity for a fresh start, a new future.

Young people have proven during this time, that they can lead change and have a voice that needs to be heard. From the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, where young people are demanding fundamental change to the numerous initiatives and inspiring actions that were started by young people from all over the world (you can find more in this report). That’s what we actually tried to achieve with #Covidunder19, an initiative led by children and young people, with the support of child rights activists, experts and other key stakeholders that aims to unite young people from all over the world and give them the opportunities  to be involved in the creation of the post COVID world.  You can find more information here.

We have a new decade ahead of us, and as it seems early on, we will face many struggles and challenges. Young people need to have a central role in the decision-making process especially in issues that directly affect them. Issues such as the changes in educational systems and environmental legislations need to be co-designed/consulted with children at all stages. We can’t afford to leave people behind and more importantly we can’t have a “lost generation”. The decisions we make now will affect our future, and young people can not be left out!

It is thus our duty to work with young people to create a better future for everyone! A better future without discrimination, poverty, human rights violations and environmental issues. Let 2020 be the year that we truly change and embrace a new attitude of working together to tackle the issues we face as humanity!