International Youth Day 2017 #Youthday #Youth4peace #Voicematters

International Youth Day is an awareness day designated by the United Nations. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. The first International Youth Day was observed on 12 August, 2000.

The importance of child rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989

Article 12: You have the right to an opinion and for it to be listened to and taken seriously.
Article 22: You have the right to special protection and help if you are a refugee.
Article 24: You have the right to the best health possible and to medical care and information.
In May 2016, one of our &Us volunteers met Gulwali Passarlay to interview him on his experiences as a child refugee and to hear about some of his key messages and notes from his book 'The Lightless Sky'. For International Youth Day, we share some of his actions we can take, big or small, to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in the UK.

Gulwali's Journey

Gulwali aged 22, is a young Afghan political refugee, who now lives in the UK having been through an arduous journey over multiple nations attempting to escape persecution and reach safety. Leaving behind his family, homeland and identity he became an adult far too soon and needed to learn to adapt to quite changing and difficult circumstances.

Having arrived in the UK in 2007, he went through many challenges such as issues with age verification, accessing appropriate mental health services and the education system.

His life has gone on to become an inspiration for many, especially with the release of his book ‘The Lightless Sky’. Also as an active campaigner and activist he is working with key stakeholders and influencers to ensure his story motivates and informs them to make sure his experiences are not repeated in the lives of other children and young refugees. (Photo Credit: Francois Bouchon)

Gulwali's Core Messages

On arrival to the UK, Gulwali was highly traumatised and needed help.
I was mentally unstable, I experienced hunger, thirst, physical and mental trauma. I was really ill.
  • Gulwali was supported by Social Services and Healthcare Professionals but there was a lack of collaboration in working together
Co - operation between social services, health professionals, the Home Office, the lawyers. Everything was disconnected.
  • Gulwali received minimal emotional and mental health support for what he had gone through
I didn't receive much support... I was angry and there was no point in talking to people because no one believed me anyway. I had very strange feelings... I have seen things that a child should never see.

Key Actions

Policy Makers & the Government
  1. Take action by taking in more people and give them shelter.
  2. Find safer routes for people to come, work with the UN and the rest of the world to find political ends to wars in Syria and conflicts in Afghanistan.
  3. Many people are coming out on the streets of London to say that Refugees are welcome, the Government has to listen.
Paediatricians/ Healthcare Professionals
  1. To listen, give practical advise, guidance and support. Be there for them. Provide signposting to get legal support and going the extra mile.
  2. Healthcare professional are not political, it's about humanity and doing the right things and taking the interest of the children and young people at the heart and treating them as children.
  3. Advise the Government on best strategies and policies to help children and young people.
Children and Young People and Families
  1. Write to your MP to highlight your concerns and highlight what you want politicians to do; Find your local MP here:
  2. Talk to other young people and refugees, befriend them, mentor them - sometimes refugees just need someone to talk to
  3. Take social action, hold a fundraising event, work with local groups and raise awareness

In Summary

"Let's recognise our common humanity and the similarities rather than focus on the difference which divide us, I feel there is more than united us. We a lot in common, standing up against injustice, hate, racism and discrimination is our humane duty and moral responsibility. I hope we don't underestimate the power our small action which will make a big difference with a positive outcome and consequences in the right direction for a successful, harmonies and prosperous future together."

Without peace, we can’t achieve anything. Peace is the ultimate need for us all and the world!

- Gulwali, 2017

Created By
Thines Ganeshamoorthy


Created with images by TheDigitalWay - "globe world map" • ChequeredInk - "uk parliament houses of parliament uk" • simple_tunchi0 - "children happy happy children playing"

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