PEACE CHILD INTERNATIONAL
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL O'CALLAGHAN AT THE RIO+10 SUMMIT IN 2002
This is the transcript of a video interview produced and directed by Michael O'Callaghan at the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, in 2002.
Full transcript (932 words, slightly edited for clarity).
© 2002-2019 Global Vision Foundation.
Bushra Razack from South Africa (aged 16 at the time of this interview) was a co-editor of the book Rescue Mission 2002 published by Peace Child International, a youth-led network of over 1,500 groups of teenagers in 130 countries which publishes books written by them about global issues, and which runs the Be The Change! project. She helped to plan Peace Child's World Congress of Youth conferences, and was involved in many project on AIDS awareness and empowerment of women and youth in South Africa.
Bushra Razack grew up in an orphanage with 70 other children and learned from an early age the importance of giving back. At age 12, her philanthropic interests led to her representing South Africa at the Millennium Young People’s Congress organized by Peace Child International at Hawaii. Proud of this achievement but not quite finished, she went on to spend 3 years developing outreach strategies for hospitals in Kenya and Cameroon. Bushra has since returned to South Africa as the managing director of the Baitu Ansaar Child Care Centre, an emergency placement centre that houses 48 children in Mitchells Plain.
Bushra draws inspiration from the communities she works with. “In my line of work I meet so many single mothers and grandmothers looking after children and families. They are resilient and strong and continue to keep their homes and community going while fighting for social and economic justice, equal opportunity and equal employment.”.
Ten years have passed since the first Earth Summit organised by the United Nations at Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
What's the most important thing for secondary school and college kids to be aware of in the world today?
At schools today, especially in South Africa, we're not educated or made aware about the problems that we as the youth are facing. And if we're not aware of them, we can't solve them! So I think it's vital and very important for youth to be educated about the problems that they're facing, especially in Africa - AIDS - because it's terrible at the moment, a huge crisis. Southern Africa makes up 70% of the whole world's AIDS population. And there's going to be about 600,000 children infected with AIDS this year. And therefore I think it's vital for school children to be made more aware of it and to discuss it, talk about it and together find ways to find possible solutions to look after those children and their parents.
How long have you been involved with Peace Child and what have you been doing with them?
I've been involved with them for a fun four years. I've had a very nice time and I'm learning so much. The first thing I did with them was the Millennium Young People's Congress in Hawaii, where youth from all over the world got together, they prioritised the problems the world is facing, and the whole Be The Change! project was one of the outcomes. And after that I took part in a musical in Morocco, it was one of the best times I've had in my whole entire life! Lots of Moroccan people and international children: they put on a show about human rights and peace. I learned a lot out of that. And the last thing I was involved in was the Rescue Mission 2002 book, all about this summit, what has been done: an assessment basically of whether governments have fulfilled their promises from the Earth Summit in Rio.
What do you think of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg?
Just a few day ago I went around interviewing people, South Africans, about their opinions on the world summit. And their views were very different: some people were ecstatic about it, they were really happy that South Africa had an opportunity to host something on such a huge scale, because it just opens doors for South Africa, gets us on the map and gives so many people opportunities. Other people felt that it was a waste, the money should rather have gone to the underprivileged who needed it. But I personally felt it was brilliant. It was opportunity for everyone to get together to discuss sustainable development, and it created awareness amongst South African students who otherwise would not have known what sustainable development is. It was a great opportunity: lots of people were involved, cultures mixed, religions mixed, and I think it was very enlightening for most people.
But the governments did not keep most of the promises they made at the Earth Summit ten years ago. And they haven't really made a lot of new promises at this summit.
I think it was great that youth were involved this time, because now we can take a stand: now that we know what's happening we can ensure and follow up to see if they fulfil their promises or not. We'll just stand behind them all the way and pester them till they do what they say they will and it happens.
What about the kids taking over? As you know, the population is going to double again, resources are diminishing, politicians aren't doing what they should, and time is running out.
That's why I'm so glad that the kids are going to take over, because I think that our hearts are in it a lot more than those of the politicians.
Do you think that young people could actually make a cultural revolution out of this?
If we're given the opportunity, we can do anything! We just have to be given the opportunity and have to be encouraged and supported by the adults. And with their help and their guidance we can change the world!
Can you not do it on your own?
We could do it on our own but I think will be better if there's people who encourage us along the way, because there could be difficulties. And we can overcome them, but it's better for all of us if we bridge the generation gap and have everyone working on it together. And we can do this if the adults support us and if they believe we can do it! I don't think that they believe in us right now, but once they have the faith in us, and believe in us, we can move mountains!
Imagine a whole bunch of young people who have never heard of any of these things, and they are channel surfing on the TV and see you here: what is the main thing you want to say to them?
If you guys want to create a change you can't do it by sitting down, you have to go out there and you have be the change! You can't make footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt! Nobody wants butt-prints in the sands of time. You've got to go out there and start with the little things around you. First change yourself, then you can inspire others to change, and by doing that everyone will follow your example and the whole world can change! You've got to go out there, see what's wrong. It starts with you!.