SUBANG JAYA: Over this weekend, 16 children received free legal advice from two lawyers on their rights at The Talisman Project, the only annual camp in Malaysia focusing on children’s rights based on the United Nations Convention of Children’s Rights (UNCRC).
The Talisman Project 2018 is the third instalment of the camp, which started out as a private initiative by Srividhya Ganapathy & Ajeet Kaur, who have both been trained as Trainers of Child Rights Lawyers by the Canadian Bar.
“The rights of children in Malaysia are sometimes neglected or not taken into account, when decisions are made that affects them,” said Srividhya.
“And that’s because children in Malaysia are not aware of their rights, and are not provided human rights education. This camp is meant to address that.”
Topics covered in the camp included leadership skills, advocacy through art and social media, presentation skills, how to be safe online/offline, and other issues affecting children in Malaysia, including sexual grooming, bullying and gender issues.
Guest speakers included Clarissa Say, a journalist from R.AGE, S. Thilaga from Justice For Sisters and Siti Aishah from Soroptimist Puberty Organising Toolkit (SPOT).
“Being a teenager can be confusing and sometimes shameful, especially if they don’t fall into the stereotype box.
“There are so many emotions and hormones flaring, we want to strip away that shame by telling them that what they’re feeling is normal and all right,” said Ajeet
Srividhya and Ajeet hope to mould batches of child advocates by having selected alumni from previous camps to facilitate future camps.
“It is universally recognised and acknowledged that the best advocates for children are children," said Srividhya.
But the support and training doesn’t end there - after each camp, Srividhya and Ajeet follow up with past camp attendees via WhatsApp, events and the bi-monthly “Art For Grabs” bazaar, where they set up a booth informing the public on child’s rights and issues.
“I never knew there was so much I didn’t know about my rights before I joined,” said Punitan Balamurugah, 12, a camp attendee.
“This camp should be held all over Malaysia so more children know about their rights.”
To apply for the next camp, hopefuls between the ages of 12-16 can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with the email topic: I want to be a child advocate!