The following perspective is from a youth participant in the fall 2018 session of THE SPARK of Le Flambeau. The students are in the early stages of learning English and have been challenged to share their views on important topics, in English. All class participants for this session are location in the Cap-Haitien area, in Haiti.
Discussion Topic: December 10th, 2018 will be the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What does the Universal Declaration of Human Rights mean to you today? Is Education a human right? Is having access to water a human right?…technology? What should the top priorities be when considering human rights? To read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English) (French) (in Kreyol).
VICKTHO – November 2018, Cap-Haitien (Grand Winner, THE SPARK of Le Flambeau, fall 2018)
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has sodden humanity in the sense that it has given birth to the equality of the human race on the same level of social well-being. However, the impact that this declaration has made is deeper than one thinks with the brilliance of a Haitian consequent of the time, namely the young senator “Emile Saint-Lot” who was the ambassador to the United Nations. This declaration means a lot to me today.
First of all, it is a pride for me as a Haitian reading this declaration that Senator Emile Saint-Lot was a co-signatory for, it is a great positive impact for Haiti. It also means that our devotees wanted peace in the world and the unity of every layer and race living on the earth. In spite of everything, today this declaration is poorly understood since inequality still reigns over most of the planet. This declaration can mean many things today, it is finally the awakening of the spirits who are sleeping to say “no” to the excesses and “yes” to the well-foundedness of this declaration which brought peace and unity after the second world war.
Referring to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights I can absolutely say “yes” that education is a human right. Every person has the right to an education. Education must be free, at least as far as basic education is concerned. Elementary education is compulsory. Technical and vocational education should be generalized. Access to higher education must be open to full equality for all according to their merit. Education must be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It must foster understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial or religious groups, as well as the development of United Nations peacekeeping activities. As a priority, parents have the right to choose the kind of education to give to their children.
Water is an indispensable need for the life of man. Without water, life on earth would be impossible. In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Articles 3 and 25, it is clear that the life of man must be guaranteed and water is a powerful auxiliary to life so it is a right of the man.
If I consider article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I can say yes that man has the right to technology which has a considerable impact on scientific progress and the development of society.
In the field of human rights, the main priorities should be education because it is through the path of education that we will know how to read and interpret what is the right of every individual. Health, too many people have died because they do not have money to cure in the hospital. Justice, too many innocent persons pay for the guilty because they do not have true justice. Foods, there are too many hungry in the world, men are so concerned about food that they forget about the things they have to do on a daily basis. Technology, too many people are ignorant, as they do not have access to information. The latter constitutes a major problem for the development of humanity.
If people have the right to feed themselves and have shelter, how come children are starving every day? If people have the right to liberty, how is it that many are in prison because of their opinions? If people have the right to education, how is it that one billion adults cannot read? If slavery was effectively abolished, how is it that there are still 27 million slaves today? The question is, who will make these words a reality?
When Martin Luther King was protesting for racial equality, he had been doing so at a time when the United Nations had guaranteed rights for two decades, yet he had to protest. When Nelson Mandela defended social justice in the 1990’s his country had already accepted 40 years earlier to abolish racial discrimination and yet he had to fight. Today we fight against torture, poverty, discrimination – not by giants or super heroes. They are people: children, mothers, fathers, teachers, free-thinking individuals who refuse to keep quiet, who realize that human rights are not a lesson in history, nor words on a page, neither speeches nor commercial advertising campaigns, but are the choices we make every day as a human being. These are the responsibilities that we all share; Respect each other, help each other, and protect those in need. As First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt put it, “where do universal human rights begin?”. They begin in places so close to home and so small that you cannot even see them on a map, and yet these places represent the world of an individual, the neighborhood in which they live, their school or university, the factory, the farm or the office. These are places where every man, woman or child aspires for justice, fair chances, fair dignity without discrimination. It is to this extent that human rights must be born.
For this 70th anniversary, I hope that the leaders of each state can become aware of the situation that people are living and take new perspectives to allow a revival of the spirit of men and women to walk in peace and unity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
About THE SPARK of Le Flambeau. This is an on-line language exchange program focused on extending educational opportunities to bright under-served youth in Haiti, now in its eighth year. The program aims to improve fluency in English language reading and writing in preparation for TOEFL and improve access to more immediate employment options in Haiti, for youth in Haiti. An introductory micro session was held for Cap-Haitien with a new group of students. The session ran for four weeks with a live awards ceremony held Cap-Haitien.