Children longing for innocence and yearning for basic rights [Archives:2007/1022/Culture]

February 5 2007

Nisreen Shadad
Ala'a Al-Iryani was moved by the reality of children losing their childhood. The grade 12 student put herself in the minds of street children, looked through their eyes and wrote stories to depict their aching lives.

“When I was 14, I got to know, for the first time, there are some children who live in dire circumstances,” she says, explaining her motivation to write “Life has other Faces.”

Al-Iryani lives happily with her parents and studies in one of the best schools in Yemen, but she empathizes with orphans and street children.

“I learnt how children like me struggle to find a little food to eat or a peaceful place to sleep. I didn't know that there are children who never play as they are considered as an adult in a form of a child. Those children taught me this life has more than a face.”

Her collection of stories, along with the book “Our Voices,” was released by the Shawthab Foundation for Childhood and Development at Yemen Times. The foundation was launching two projects to combat child abuse and child trafficking.

The Shawthab Foundation consists of four units; education, health, social development unit and the last, the focus of this project, works to raise awareness and cultivate children's rights.

“This unit is supporting children to be courageous enough to express their feelings and ask for their rights,” said Maryam Ibraheem, the general trustee of Shawthab Foundation.

The panel launching the project included several activists discussing the efforts made for children and the future expectations the organizations as well as the government are working towards. They pointed out that children are not born with problems, but their lives are often influenced.

“The family plays a vital role in the child's life