Makhtoum Abdalla, 17, from Sudan, is passionate about equal access to quality education for all children and young people.
He believes investment in education is strategic for any country that wishes to progress, and his dream is to become a doctor. Read his blog for World Children's Day and discover other young leaders advocating for children's rights here.
"Hi, I’m Makhtoum Abdallah – I’m 17 years old from Otash Internal Displaced Persons Camp in South Darfur, Sudan. I was born and raised in Otash.
Children are the future of every society in the world, so it's important to prioritize and care for them and their issues. This can be done effectively by informing children about their rights and implementing their rights—because many children, especially in Africa, don’t know of and are denied their rights.
I’m very active as a youth advocate, especially within my community in Otash. One way that I found very effective for the youth and children in my community was through the cultural club that we have. It’s a small hut where all the youth gather to discuss issues that matter to them. I found this a great opportunity for me to continuously advocate for child rights and the importance of education. With my academic achievements, I have become very influential, especially to the younger generations in Otash.
I get very sad to see that sometimes that education is not a priority for these children because they are barely making ends meet and don’t have much food or economic support. I use the cultural club to help escape from these everyday issues we face in Otash and look at a brighter future.
As you may know, Sudan has struggled along the rest of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic but for us, this was even harder. Before the pandemic, we had a revolution that brought change to the country but schools were closed for prolonged periods. When the pandemic happened, the schools were shut again, resulting in closures for almost two years. You can imagine the difficulties this brought for us youth. During that time, I continued to read. But even that is not easy. For many around the world, access to electricity and the internet is guaranteed. But for us, we have become accustomed to the prolonged electricity cuts. I often had to read and study for exams by using a flashlight. This is very hard.
Imagine not having internet to search for information or even check social media. You feel isolated from the world. Imagine wanting to study or read a book and then just like that, the electricity cuts and stays off for hours every day. Life in the camp is all I know and it already has its challenges but it's home to me. The internet, education and books are my escape and future. Not being able to access them is difficult.
But we always find ways to keep going. My friends and I find our escape in playing football and talking about life and the futures we hope to have. When I read a fictional story, that story becomes my alternative reality temporarily and that gives me hope.
Hope is critical for us young people. Without it... what do we have?
We need hope and we need to build a future. That future starts with a simple dream and hope for a better tomorrow. This is the message I share with the young people and children around me in the camp when I advocate for education.
To make a better world for every child in this world, we need more opportunities to hear children’s voices, even through after-school programs and the cultural club I’m a part of. Instead of always preaching to children about their rights, we need to engage in conversations with them. We need to ensure that they know that their voice matters, as sometimes preaching makes young people discouraged when they are not engaged in conversations.
Education can take us from darkness to light. When I was born, I faced countless problems, but I didn’t stop dreaming of big things. Nothing will change unless you change."