Human Rights

Masked Not Muted: young poets reimagine their world

Young people have spoken out about their concerns on subjects such as education, mental health and the climate crisis. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will also affect generations to come if we don’t course correct now.

This is a time for generations to come together to reimagine the type of world we want to create. And the global community must listen to children and young people, working alongside them to design a better future.

For these reasons, a group of young poets around the world shared their visions for a better world post COVID-19 and inspired each other to make this a reality.

Check out some of their poems to mark World Children’s Day, UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children, and share yours


Give me a voice and I’m a thunderstorm
Ana Karola, 20, Mexico
I look outside and see the growing heat that manifests in forest fires,
Deadly signs,
We don’t have much time,
All while a room full of grown men controlled by self-interests points my way and says:
“the economy comes first, you can wait”

But not today,
not with overcrowding hospitals with overflowing pain,
you're trying to trick us into thinking the world is better even if it’s caving,

We sit upon a garden that is rotting,
for it cannot grow hope on a wasteland filled by wars,
actions justified by “nationalist behavior”,

An interesting way to say you don't care for your neighbor,
You pay for the smoke that fills my lungs,
the one I keep trying to exhale along with the belief that I couldn't make a change,
but now I know better,
“a kid is a just a kid”
But give me a voice and I’m a thunderstorm,

Life is not a straight line but a maze of unrequited talks of peace,
bombing and more polluting,
and the ones in power can’t seem to give any solutions,

You show me Yemen, You show me see Syria,
but I'll show you Yousafzai, Greta,
A little kid with the strength to beat your agendas,

The young are crowding the streets,
This is not us asking,
it's us demanding,

I see light tunnels,
I hear the breathing of the earth,
let mother know her children are fighting
a poem for her forest, a song for her oceans,

We are the children you can’t silence,
even if you tried it.
A Hope That One Day
Kajal Singh, 21, India
In the shadow of this foreign place,
I want to spell my heart this time,
About the ambition,
I often feel inside.

There are screams, hidden behind my masked smile.
The dreams which faded in the dull lights.

I often starved in the night,
To reimagine a better future of mine,
With a little hope inside.

A hope that one day,
Someone will take away this rotten bread,
And help me feed until my hunger ends.

A hope that one day,
Someone will provide me with a grade,
And help me learn to spell my name.

A hope that one day,
Someone will take away this rough pave,
And provide me with a soft place.

A hope that one day,
Someone will give me a shoulder to cry,
And help to get over my restless mind.

A hope that one day,
Someone will hold me close,
And will give me a motherly warmth.

A hope that one day my miseries end,
When certain someone will hold my hand.

A hope that one day,
I become that someone,
And execute the hopes of certain someone.
Breaking the silence
Anika Visser, 16, South Africa
We’ve been withering away, behind our masks,
long before the pandemic started.
Silencing our thoughts, trying not to make a sound,
leaving the problems at hand uncharted.

We try to scream, try to warn against the threats,
but our pleas only fall on deaf ears.
You look at us with hate in your hearts,
and simply dismiss all our fears.

Our world is burning, and the smoke is rising,
tightening around our throats.
The people are begging, calling out for our help,
but all you do is hand them a rope.

If we educate all people, if we give them a chance,
we can fight to turn this world around.
We can start a new era, full of hope and full of love,
and build our nation up from the ground.

If we listen to each other, and unite as one,
our possibilities are endless.
We all have the power to make a difference,
and until then should remain restless.

The time has come to take a stand,
and speak out for those with no voice.
We have to take action, against what’s wrong,
we simply have no other choice.

We’ll break the silence as the youth of today.
A boy in India teaches of how properly use a mask.
We want our voices to reach the sky
Mohammed Salihu, 21, Nigeria
Naked silences
The World has shut its eyes
To our Visions
It's time to clothe our “naked silences” in words
Drown them in inks
So the World feels our tremors...
We want our dreams knitted into wings
So they touch the sky
We want our fears dried into cements
So we build castles
We want to drink from the sea of education
So we quench the thirst of our curiosities
We want our chains broken
For greatness is not taboo
We want our voices to reach the sky
So when the World opens it eyes
It would see us for who we are... Stars
Our humanity
Asmita Neupane, 14, Nepal
Walking down the road, with a pack of bread
I see a poor orphaned boy lying half-naked
The playground where children used to come
Just look at the ruin it has become
The school has become quarantine
World has become worse than it had ever been
A preteen’s body thrown in earth’s bed
Motionless enough to be considered dead
However, the money covered eyes don’t care
Only a small girl notices she is there

She has biscuits and water with her
I was sympathizing, just standing there
She sprinkled water at the motionless
Who became prey to world’s cruelness
She opens her eyes moaning in pain
The young girl gives her hope to live once again
She gives the poor boy a bottle of water
I just stand there, looking at her

Let’s not ignore, not just distribute sympathy
Let’s go ahead and give empathy
Everyone of us is able do this
Because you’re never ineligible to spread peace
This COVID crisis can drive us to insanity.
And we can only fight this together with our humanity
Staying within the mask, there’re many things we can do
Though masked but not muted, me and you
The unspoken truth
Maria, 15, UK
I lay motionless as I gaze,
wondering how to get out of this maze

Maze of wonder,
Maze of mystery,
Maze of doubt,

Sounds in my head shout,
asking what this is about,
the trees welcome and invite,
but there is no one in sight
what a world we live in,
full of chaos,
full of change

Everyday I woke up to see,
a world with very little to offer me,
I hear the shouting and commotion,
and a constant lack of devotion

dad cries while mum weeps,
tears leave their eyes,
so why do they still tell these lies?

the clouds were grayer than ever,
and my family still thought it was getting better,
my father still hides it away,
as if life hasn’t changed from last May.

he pretends he is happy;
pretending he is fine,
he isn’t,
but neither am I.

it is hurtful to watch this game,
because it’s starting to bring out some pain,

if only he would say,
that he wasn’t enjoying his day
if only we could speak,
instead of playing hide and seek

Can’t we just be honest,
and keep a promise?

Can’t we just speak,
Rather than pretending we aren’t weak?
 Happy children at the playground of their school in Toumodi-Sakassou, in the center of Côte d'Ivoire.
The most beautiful place
Malvika Dangwal, 19 India
I want to knock at the doors of humanity again
And smile as it welcomes me in
As I ask - Don’t you want a proof
Of my sexuality, my religion, and creed
A card to say, I am accepted in your realm
That I’ve tampered and rebuilt myself
To fit your normal
That I no longer resemble me
But hey at least you’ll accept this
And it says - Don’t be silly, we’re all flowers from the same seed
Humanity, love, that’s the only label you’ll ever need
I want to celebrate the bells of Christmas eve,
Dance to the tunes of bhajans sung by priests
Partake in the discussions of atheism
That’s the diversity I want to see
Where the normal for the color of the skin
Is brown and black and white
And every shade in between
Where gender and sexuality is not a black and white fix.
And as the next generation
Opens its eyes to its first rendezvous with the sky
I want to tell them, it’s the most beautiful place
On heaven and earth
That it’s a kind place
Because that is how it chose to be
That humanity became humane again
Since the last time.
We’re holding the world in our hands
Daryna Kopylova, 8, Ukraine
Pandemic avalanche has fallen down
On our heads and into our houses
With endless thoughts, provoking nervous frown
Though I believe in the sun that rises.
I believe in God, who will help
Every person, who’s brave to fight.
And the ice of disease will melt.
And the morning will change the night.
The life is colorless
And usual things are now banned.
And this is urging us to fight and walk ahead.
Listen to advice, put on the masks,
Wash hands and do not touch your face...
So simple are protective tasks
Yet strong in fighting deadly haze.
Stay calm and patient
(As the hustle is fierce enemy to all)
We’re holding world in our hands
So virus will extinct and fall.
Have you seen how the wind is blowing up all the surroundings,
How river flows and drowns the homes
And people stay alone with no hopes for rebounding
And no place left from their homeland stones?!
We will survive! Typhoons, disasters and today’s COVID.
So close your doors on time don’t let him satisfy his greed!
The stars still desperately shine
Valeria Gavenko, 15, Ukraine
We lack the words to stay in peace
With our thoughts and feelings
While Somebody sings lullaby
Someone ignores days fleeing.
Somebody stops while other one
Makes step into unknown
And you’re still looking for a sword
At any price to stay aboard.

The Earth compassionately feels for our battle with disease
And you are sitting lonely in a room and
Grieve, as if this night shall never fade
Still counting days till your last wound
While your soul fades away.
You wish you could embrace all your beloved,
And realize how much it hurts to live these lonely days.

The stars still desperately shine
And wait for sparkling sign.
We share same emotions
And seem to know no borders
We’re changing our notions:
Those, who we’re strong - turned out more modest,
And weakest ones became real strong,
Now humankind shares blood and storm.
We all sound quite baby voice,
As with the baby steps
We crawl to our common choice
And light in that whole depth.

Luck left us all
And we swim sad together
In ocean full of endless hope
Still carrying our falls to brighter weather.
When facing bad luck and have fallen apart
When we have no hope for the future
When shouting out loud: “Maybe that is enough?!”
I believe there’s end to the torture.
I believe we are brave enough
To keep holding close to each other
I believe human flame will stay outside the cuffs.
And in Love of a son and a father.
14-year-old Zainab, a poet from Bamyan province, Afghanistan.
Childhood memories
Zainab, 14, Afghanistan
I wish a magical door would open to the memories of my childhood
Remain open, and not close down all my life, not before my end
The memories will spin and span
Tales of days gone they will tell
Of my days as an infant and a toddler
Of the so many friends in confinement in my home I miss altogether
Of the so many plays and going to class together
I would see a time when distancing meant nothing
No pain in hearts, no misery in life,
Memories of laughing, stories of joy surrounding us
I wish every child could have schooling
Leaving home for lessons, a splendid sight worth seeing
Every child happy and safe, sunk deep in books, reading and writing
At times now I wish, it was just me and my memories
And all the wishes in our hearts
The dreams that we aspire
And the life that we desire.
Together we’ll heal it faster
Yelyzaveta Prasolova, 15, Ukraine
This year set apart millions of hearts
And draw the distinctive borders.
It touched every house and castle walls
And announced the new mask order.
The world is a negative news show
It’s hard to believe in best.
As death rate inevitably grows
And puts in the danger those alive
It’s harder to hold on your panic strokes
While hospitals heavily overdosed
With those who try to survive.
The crowd’s full of whispers
The crowd complains
On doctors and those in power.
The crowd is blind and ignores the chains
Which brave doctors bear this hour.
Victorious deed they make every day
Should be loudly praised!
As they risk themselves to give us a chance for a full recover and raise.
They are superheroes of modern times,
Who traded the cloaks for protective suits,
We ask you to think, when reading these rhymes: stop looking for an excuse!
What can you do? What is your role?
What can you do on the scene of disaster?
Remember, that now no one is small
Together we’ll heal it faster!
We won’t give disease any possible chance
And let’s proclaim for an instance:
We are able to do this brave fighting dance
While keeping our social distance!
The road to recovery begins with me
Lunjok, 14, South Sudan
I love my environment so fresh and clean.
Seeing the birds chirping up on the tree.
Look at all the fish swimming in the clear blue sea.
A morning breeze so fresh and clean. No clouds of black smoke daunting me.
A paper here, a paper there. Soon enough they're everywhere.
Birds and fish losing their homes. Cutting down trees. Pollution of the Seas.
What will this be, the negligence of human beings?
Save the birds. Save the trees.
The road to recovery begins with me.
Let us make our environment clean.
Masked but not muted
Ngozi, Tafari and father Omaall Wright, Jamaica
Violence sky rocket to dismal heights
Now more than ever, children rights

The abuse is graphic
Children being trafficked

Too much death, neglect
Who will protect
We have to be the advocates

Most High please answer our prayers
Covid causing chaos
Taking a toll on my Mental health
Isolation, depression felt

Brittle bones, no exercise
We need to see the Sunrise
No sunlight, no vitamin D
Hostage to a virus, fighting to be free
Affecting education drastic
No internet for online classes
Can't buy laptop when belly hungry
No one cares for the poor in this country

The world locked in constant wars

Youth crying out, end sars
Boko haram, isis,
ice cap melting, climate crisis
Earth, skies and seas, polluted
Now the children must pay for what you did
We stand resolute, grounded, rooted
Masked but not muted!

Fight for rights, everywhere we guh.
The children, we are the heroes
Stand for justice, in all you do.
And you will be a heroe too.

After the pandemic we want to see the world
Stronger together, it takes a village to raise a child
Sustainable future, no discrimination,
Out of many people, we are one.
Strength and determination,
The planet needs preservation
Lets set certain legislations
For the oncoming generation

Children are the future, Give them way
Heroes - World children's day
You have a role to play young people, make the choice.
Rise up and raise your voices
Preservation of our planet

Check out other poems and blogs by Ana Karola, Kajal, AnikaMohammed, Asmita, Maria and Malvika in their Voices of Youth profiles. For more information about World Children's Day 2020 visit