You Have An Opportunity to Give Children Hope and a Future!
By Constance Ndeleko
Hope is more than optimism. It is something we cultivate, trust and believe in that things will eventually be fine. Hope is betting on the future; on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than pessimism and safety. Hope promotes an affirmative course of action. To hope is to give yourself to the future, and that commitment to the future makes the present habitable.
Hope lies at the core of human psyche and children who are hopeful are happier. Hopeful children have better relationships. Children who are hopeless don’t try, they have poor relationships and feel helpless. They don’t achieve goals often because they don’t set any and when they do set them that’s where they stop because they don’t have enough hope to find ways to achieve those goals.
Parents are a child’s first hope providers. Solid parenting can result in more hopeful offspring. Children thrive on reliability. Children require a safe presence. We need also to understand that Children have limited defense mechanisms and that as a caregiver’s hope levels rise, so will be the child’s.
Psychologists say a person has hope when they believe that they can find ways to achieve their goals and to motivate themselves to try and follow those ways to get those goals.
Children growing up in environments of deprivation and fear are going to grow up angry and aggressive. Children who grow up in a constant state of anxiety not knowing to whom to turn for comfort and solace grow up isolated and feeling alone.
The children of today, are facing a new set of challenges and global shifts that were unimaginable to your parents. Our climate is changing beyond recognition. Inequality is deepening. Technology is transforming how we perceive the world. And more families are migrating than ever before. Childhood has changed, and we need to change our approaches along with it.
The rise of digital and mobile technology and other innovations have made it easier and more efficient to deliver critical services in hard-to reach communities and to expand opportunities. Yet poverty, inequality, discrimination and distance continue to deny millions of children their rights every year.
We are facing an alarming rise in overweight children, but also girls suffering from anemia. The stubborn challenges of open defecation and child marriage continue to threaten children’s health and futures.
Whilst the numbers of children in school are higher than ever, the challenge of achieving quality education is not being met. Being in school is not the same as learning; more than 60 per cent of primary school children in developing countries still fail to achieve minimum proficiency in learning and half the world’s teens face violence in and around school, so it doesn’t feel like a place of safety.
Yet there is one area of risk for adolescents showing an extremely worrisome trend in the wrong direction – one that reminds us of the invisible vulnerability that young people still carry inside of them. Mental health disorders among under 18s have been rising steadily over the past 30 years and depression is now among the leading causes of disability in the young. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 62,000 adolescents died in 2016 because of self-harm, which is now the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15–19.
When migration is driven by desperation, it can lead to children migrating without the legal permissions they need, becoming so-called ‘irregular migrants’. They often take perilous journeys across deserts, oceans and armed borders, encountering violence, abuse and exploitation on the way.
And one of the greatest migrations the world has ever seen is happening not across borders, but within borders, with millions migrating internally from rural to urban areas. This has also propelled child trafficking in the recent years.
No child should feel forced to migrate from their home, yet until the root causes are addressed, the situation is unlikely to change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely derailed the education journey for the poorest and most vulnerable children globally. This has led children to lose hope in their future most especially where change is minimal.
We can provide sustainable hope through wellness programs and disaster response in collaboration with local communities even at grassroots level. This can jointly be done through gathering and giving basic need, nutritional foods, and medical services
Interventions and programs developed with a view to instill and maintain hope can significantly aid the promotion of mental and physical health, the enhancement of well-being and positive development and adaptation, and the reduction of psychopathology.
Child friendly spaces give children hope for a brighter future and an opportunity to heal the scars of war, it gives them a chance to express themselves freely and practice their hobbies in a safe and secure environment.
Hope is responding to meet the urgent needs of children, including access to water, health and education services, protecting their rights and helping them to overcome the dire situation in their country.
Giving children Hope is ensuring that they have basic needs to survive and thrive; every child has a right to food, education, health, protection and a right to life and we can only do so much to ensure that their future is protected and their spirits are lifted high.
Hope is building a strong foundation for children in contact or in conflict with the law. We too often see children aging out of foster care without an opportunity to find permanency. De-institutionalization and re-interagation of children and their families, fostering/adopting – you have a chance to offer these children a promise – not to harm them, but to love them and give them hope and a future.
When we create and initiate programs in support of children we lift them from poverty, harmful cultural practices, and violence/conflict, neglect, mental health issues and child labor. Improving living standards is a fundamental necessity among poor households, and it is an important step towards self-reliance. Adequate housing is critical in addressing the broader challenges of poverty, and is a catalyst for economic and social development.
When children experience neglect, abuse, homelessness or other traumas in their young lives, what we can do as caring adults is to help them find hope in their future. Even for children who have not experienced such trauma, hope is an important indicator of quality of life.
Hope is not a personality trait that some are born with, while others aren’t. We can model it for our children when we persevere through difficulties. We can point it out to in the stories we read or watch with them. We can even encourage them to instill hope in their friends or even strangers when we do well this holiday season.
The opportunity to be the bearer of “hope and a future” is right there – beckoning at you. Think about it
Hope is registering children at birth; which is the first step in securing their recognition before the law, safeguarding their rights, and ensuring that any violation of these rights does not go unnoticed. The United Nations has set a goal that every human being on the planet will have a legal identity by 2030.
The challenge facing us all today is to ensure that we design systems that maximize the positive benefits of big data and artificial intelligence, while preserving privacy, providing protections from harm and empowering people – including children – to exercise their rights.
Why we need hope –children and young people of today – are taking the lead on demanding urgent action, and empowering themselves to learn more about themselves, and shape the world around them.
Hope has a unique power to propel individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to action and can sustain their energies on the road to achieve everything they value.
We need to work together to find the solutions needed to tackle the challenges of today, to build better futures for children and the world that will inherit.