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November 20: World Day of Children's Rights. "Giving words" and listening to children. The book 'In the School of Peace' in French

November 20 2019

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On the occasion of the International Day of Children's and Adolescents' Rights, the French version of the book 'Alla Scuola della Pace' of the Community of Sant'Egidio (ed. Adriana Gulotta), which collects the words and expectations of children all over the world, was published.

For 30 years the International Convention on the Rights of the Child has established children's rights. From these rights, the child and the adolescent emerge as a person, with their own opinion that is particularly important in questions of their interest, with expectations of the world in terms of survival and development. The International Day of Children's and Adolescents' Rights which takes place on the day of the historic approval by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989, is an occasion to reflect to what extent the fundamental rights that were written down in the Charter have become reality in all parts of the world.

One priority objective of the Schools of Peace of the Community of Sant'Egidio is - as can be read in the book 'In the School of Peace' - "giving words to those who don't have them." Not having words is a great poverty: the inability to express oneself and to communicate means to be deprived of the instruments to understand reality and to defend one's own rights. This can be read in the many stories collected in the book that has been published in French on the occasion on Children's Rights Day.
"Giving words" is a form of material support, together with others
, like giving education, food, health and peace education. This is the mission of the Schools of Peace that adapt to the needs of the children and their families in every part of the world where they are present. Listening to role models, among whom many young people who run the Schools of Peace, is a premise to win many battles. It is the surprise of the children to find someone who "loses time" for them. Their conversation with others becomes an experience of being freed from the anger of not being able to communicate and be understood. It becomes a way to understand that violence is useless and never justified. The child opens up to the possibility of a model that is an alternative to the violence of adults it sees within its home of in the streets.
The School of Peace is Ciro, 11 years old, from Scampia in the periphery of Napels, who says: "First I thought I always wanted to shoot, every time they were mocking me. Today I don't know what I want to do." Violence cedes. And Juan from El Salvador, 9 years old and a small 'gang leader' who seriously came to Fernando, an adult who wasn't afraid of him and who had become his role model, giving him a knife that he kept in his pocket, saying: "Take it. I don't want this anymore."
Even more, in the School of Peace teaches sympathy for the weak and a culture of encounter. Kondwani, 8 years old, from Malawi overcomes the fear to meet the elderly, who are often accused of witchcraft. "I understand she feels lonely and needs help." It's the same reaction other children in other parts of the world have when they see an elder person in marginal conditions.
In the School of Peace, therefore, we learn that talking, meeting and knowing makes us more human and less violent. A premise for growing up well.