SA experience inspires youth
A UNITED Nations Children's Fund New Zealand youth ambassador is using her experience of growing up in South Africa to lobby for equal education rights for children across the world.
South African-born Sharndré Kushor was eight years old when her family moved to Auckland.
Earlier this year the 17-year-old was one of six youth ambassadors chosen by Unicef to raise awareness on global issues among youth in her country.
On the recommendation of her school principal, Kushor applied for the position in November last year.
At the time Kushor had left to holiday in Hong Kong and South Africa.
"I was very excited but nervous at the same time. Being short-listed culminated in a Skype interview which took place at the start of January 2012 while I was in Johannesburg ," she said.
In her first blog, titled "How education can break the cycle of poverty", which was published on the Unicef website, Kushor explained she learnt from her experiences in South Africa and from poor people that education was often seen as a luxury.
"Through my experience of growing up in South Africa I formed my own views on what I think are key factors in breaking the cycle of poverty for the millions of people that face this harsh reality from the day they are born until the day they die.
"At the dawn of the new millennium, the United Nations established targets for a 15-year time frame to address the millions of children across the world who were being deprived of the fundamental right to basic education.
"Today we are nowhere near achieving the target. Today it is estimated that 69million school-aged children are not receiving primary education. Most of these children live in Africa and Asia. This limited access to education, in my opinion, can be linked with ongoing issues of human suffering, war and famine," she wrote.
Kushor yesterday said she would use her position to create a better world for every child.
"'Every child' being the key word. Unicef has no boundaries and, being a neutral organisation, it is open to the views and opinions of every citizen of the world.
"Having deep roots in a country that was plagued by racism and discrimination for many years, this notion of equality and hence every child being accommodated by the United Nations Convention of the right of a child, is close to my heart."
She added that she was not surprised that she was chosen to represent a country that she was not born in.
"I believe South Africa, like New Zealand, is part of this global community that we all belong to. With increasing technology, the world is getting smaller and smaller.
"I do not see myself as a citizen of New Zealand or a citizen of South Africa, I see myself as more of a citizen of a global community where there are no limits to what one can achieve, if one believes," she said.