|Human Rights Week 2017 - 13 June 2017|
Year 9 student, Sophie Nakamura recently delivered a powerful speech about Human Rights at Middle School Assembly for the Benenson Society, one of our Social Justice groups at Lourdes Hill College. We invite you to read Sophie's speech below:
I want you to imagine a young girl. My guess is that almost all of you pictured a small, smiling girl. A girl who is fair-skinned. Now there’s nothing wrong with that. But what if I said that the girl I was talking about was not, in fact, fair-skinned. Hopefully, this will not make any difference to what you think about this girl. But in some people’s eyes, this one feature can classify someone as something. Classify them as inhuman. And this is where barriers form.
There should not be a barrier between two races; we should not even have to see it as two opposing ends of a spectrum. It’s like looking at someone with blue eyes and thinking of them differently from someone with brown eyes. Neither race is better. Hopefully, in the future, they should not even be seen as equal. Because both races are the same, both races are human. Humans should not be defined by their skin colour – that just classifies them as types of humans.
Remember that girl I was talking about? Well she has two legs, two arms, two eyes, a nose, ears and a heart. But apparently, according to some, this is not enough to classify this child as a child. Apparently ‘it’ is not worth food, shelter and money – the things that we take for granted in our lives. Apparently, because of one genetic difference that makes her look slightly different from some of us, this girl is less than us. Because of this, she is denied what we have an abundance of, and this is the basis for our campaign during Human Rights Week this week. We want to help people facing racial discrimination, or any sort of oppression.
Some of you may know Mehret Lumb. She is an incredible girl in Year 8 at this school, who has a deep passion for human rights. What many of you may not know, is that Mehret came from an orphanage in Ethiopia, which is a developing country in East Africa. This orphanage is called the Kidane Mehret Children’s Home, the place after which Mehret was named. This orphanage lacks the facilities it needs to provide the children with a sustainable way of living. Tomorrow, we will be having a bake sale and a lolly jar in the GSC, the proceeds from which will be sent to Mehret’s Children’s home and will hopefully improve the conditions for the children living there. On Thursday, we will be viewing ‘Pictures of You, Anh Do’ in the GSC, and will be selling popcorn for a dollar to accompany the show. We will continue the bake sale and lolly jar on Thursday as well. Mehret is proud of where she comes from, a country of kind, generous souls. Our support can give the people living in Ethiopia the opportunity to live their lives to the full.
As a human rights group, our mission is to raise awareness. It’s not about raising heaps of money; it’s about raising our voices. So please spread the word about just treatment of all races to help people in countries like Ethiopia. Along with this, we will have several petitions to raise our voices for situations where human rights have been violated.
One particular petition that I would like to explain is that of the situation in Venezuela. Some of you may know Daniella Brito-Fernandez, a good friend of mine who is from Venezuela. Recently the governmental changes have taken away the citizens’ basic right to a voice. The government is now a complete dictatorship, meaning that the common people have no right to voice their opinions. People have been protesting in Venezuela to get their basic rights back, and this has caused over 60 deaths, 2200 detentions, around 1000 people injured by tear gas bombs and police brutality, as well as numerous deaths of students our age just fighting for the voices that we have the luxury to use daily. If every person in this school, if 1200 people, signed this petition, it really would make a difference to the situation.
Money will only get a situation so far. But if a nation’s worth of voices band together for a united cause, people will start to listen. The cries of people are far more powerful than the influence of money, so if you get anything from my speech today, it is to spread the word, get people to help, and please, please come and sign the petitions. It will come at no cost to you; simply put your name and a few details down. It will only take a minute, but it will help change several thousand lives.
You can read more about Mehret’s inspirational story in the 4 June edition of The Catholic Leader.
Photo: Mehret Lumb with her mother, Joanne Lumb