Global Leaders for Young Children work in different countries to help children of minority communities. The one thing that emerged when we met them at the World Forum on Early Care and Education in New Zealand, is that despite the differences and the distances these communities often share similar issues.
The Global Leaders for Young Children is a program aiming to support emerging influencers in early childhood education and care. The Romani Early Years Network (through its host – ISSA) got involved in the program with the current cohort of Global Leaders Europe. Six leaders receive training and additional support within the program as they are developing and implementing their advocacy projects for improved access for young Romani and Traveller children to quality early childhood services.
It has been more than three weeks now, since our delegation came back from the World Forum on Early Care and Education in New Zealand, one of the face-to-face meetings in the program which mostly runs online. We have already managed to clean our mailboxes and started our daily routines, but the Haka still resonates. The traditional war cry of Māori has been there all the time – welcoming us, entertaining us and telling us goodbye. New Zealand gave us a lesson how traditions are preserved in diversity.
“I felt completely pleased, challenged, loved, involved and energized at the same time,” says Sonila Dubare, one of the Global Leaders and child rights advocate from Albania. There were hundreds of participants at the Word Forum, and the world is what defines the attendees the best. Practitioners, experts, activists, social entrepreneurs and many other professionals working with all kinds of children were attending to learn from each other and contribute with their knowledge and expertise.
Learning from the similarities and inspiration from the differences – that could have easily been the motto. “I was surprised by how different our lives are in various circumstances and yet what we all shared was this unique desire to support children all over the world. We donate our free time as volunteers, we are not in this for money,” says another Global Leader, passion-driven Brigita Mark, who works as a civil servant.
Similarities between Roma and Travellers and other disadvantaged groups from around the world were significant. “I learned so much about different communities, from the Aboriginal groups in Australia to the Native American tribes of Dakota. It made me feel I am not alone in my efforts for cultural inclusion and preservation in education, to nurture the very being of our children,” comments Lisa Smith, a Romani Traveller from the UK and another Global Leader from Europe.
The energy was so strong that it reached Driton Berisha, children’s rights champion from Kosovo and a Global Leader, who could not participate at the World Forum. He said: “I am sure the positive energy would not have been easy to forget. I saw in the pictures; everyone brought a big smile with them.” We can only confirm that. World Forum gives us hope that the hundreds of attendees can make the world better for children around the world.
Find out more about the Global Leaders program here.