María Jiménez Albarrán won the first prize in EXPRÉSATE, “Express yourself: the rights of children and adolescents”, an Art and Audiovisual Media contest organized by the UN, the Foreign Affairs Secretariat of Mexico, and Save the Children. Maria was invited to the Senate of the Republic (of Mexico), where she was given a special recognition and had lunch with the senators. It was very moving for us as parents to see in the screen of the Press room how Maria walked in by herself while all the Senators clapped for her. We realized that although she is only 6 she is capable of reaping her own triumphs. On the 6th of December she was received at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in a special ceremony to commemorate the rights of children.
Maria put herself at the center of her drawing, surrounded by all her rights – the right to a birthday cake, to play, to brush her teeth, to live in a house, but the most beautiful was “I have a right to let God shine His light on me”. Let us ask ourselves, how many children in Mexico lack the essentials, and what can we do so that all children may enjoy the same rights? In the ceremony at the UN the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information, Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, said that the UN is working on behalf of children’s’ rights throughout the world, especially in those countries where children are forced to take part in war. He said that we do not have that problem in Mexico, but I mentioned that in Mexico we do live a silent war. How many children are in the streets, how many have already turned into delinquents, how many use drugs? We must realize that this is a war that we must wage as a country, that we must defend those children so that they have a healthy and just childhood, with the same basic rights as Maria in her drawing.
We learned much as a family through this award and we would like to share something else. This contest was also won by a child named Eduardo in the category of 10 year olds. He is HIV positive and lives in a home because his parents died from AIDS. Eduardo had to stop taking his medicine in order to enter the Unites States, since the US does not allow the entry of HIV positive persons. Paradoxically, the winner of a contest about children’s rights is discriminated against, and he is only 10 years old. Maria drew the rights that, thank God, she lives day by day, but Eduardo drew a sad child with a caption that reads “I have a right that my body be respected”. What is Jesus asking of us in front of such inequality among children? Let us ask God to “let His light shine” on us, as Maria says, that He give us light and strength to fights those inequalities that hurt.
Jeanine Albarrán de Jiménez, Mexico
Note by the NGO Office: As of January 1, 2010, the USA has lifted its ban on entry to the country by persons who are HIV positive.