7th Grader Joel Greek talks about reading his prize-winning poem at the UN.
On the 12th of March Joel Greek, a young man from the Western Cape and grade 7 learner at the Athlone School for the Blind, was awarded the opportunity to read an essay he wrote, in front of world leaders at the United Nations headquarters in New York. He won the Lions Club Global Essay competition and was chosen above contestants from 100 different countries. We’re joined now by Joel Greek and Barbara Davis, the Cultural Co-ordinator ath Athlone School for the Blind.
Below is Joel's prize-winning essay:
SHARE PEACE by Joel Greek
As a young person in today’s society I feel world peace is possible in our lifetime. The challenges we face have always been the same; racism, inequality, discrimination, and poverty these are part of our story. The difference today there are many people standing up for their rights. Knowing we are all connected my success is influenced by others and when they suffer it will affect me too. The world has gotten smaller in many ways. You can get on a plane and go anywhere in the world in less than a day. You can go onto the internet and connect with different people from around the world in a instant. Yet with all the advances we have also become disconnected and have lost ourselves in a world where what you wear and how much you have is more important than your character and values.
There are wonderful role models all through history. People that had the courage to stand up to tyranny and faced incredible odds. Children like Anne Frank who believed in the goodness and humanity in people until her life was taken by the system that did not even see her as a person. Nkosi Johnson a young boy from our own country who knew that his HIV-status did not make him less than any other child and believed every child deserves equal opportunity. Laura Bridgeman who became the first deaf, blind person to be properly educated. Malala Yousafza who defied the Taliban and demanded that girls receive the same education as boys.
There have always been bullies, tyrants those that believe they are better, they deserve more. Every day around the world there are the Anne Franks, Nkosi Johnson, Laura Bridgeman’s and Malala’s standing up for their rights and less fortunate, underprivileged, those without voices the unseen but today the heroes outnumber the villains. I myself am a young boy with a disability, the only one in my family. Yet they accept me knowing I am capable of anything. We have an opportunity to change the world. By accepting our ownselves, our differences, our imperfections, our shortcomings, we will be able to accept others, their differences, their imperfection and their shortcoming.
In Greek Mythology there is Pandora who opened a jar and every disease and evil came out into the world. After all the things left the jar, the only one left was hope. I believe that is our world today. Filled with all kinds of evil and war. Yet there is hope, there will always be hope. Someone said; “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” In today’s world there are too many of us that will do something and stand up.
We are more especially the youth because they are the future. Ensuring the evils of the past are not repeated, and to make our tomorrow better than our today. Nelson Mandela said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”