Title: A right that begins from the time of your birth
Date: 15-Jul-2010

“A right is not what someone gives you; it’s what no one can take from you – Ramsey Clark”

You have the right to a name. You also have the right to belong to a country. You have the right to be officially registered as a person so that, when you grow up, you can work, travel and get married. You also have the right to privacy – this means for example, that a newspaper can’t print your picture or write a story about if you and your parents haven’t agreed to it.

Recently Mike and Jenny were blessed with a baby girl. Their faces lit up when they saw their bay for the first time. Indeed joy fills the home with the arrival of a baby. The parents named her Naomi. This is the beginning of the right of the child, which is to have a name.

The parents have two weeks to register the child and to obtain the birth certificate. So dad gets busy and travels excitedly all the way to PutraJaya to have the birth registered. He then collects the birth certificate that recognizes the child’s name and nationality and confirms citizenship. Again this is a right of a child to a name and nationality.

The words of a song go like this “How sweet to hold a newborn baby”, yes a baby brings much joy to a family. Yet I can think of millions of children just like Naomi being born in a war torn countries where one day he or she might grow up to become a child soldier.

Another child will be born in hunger and soon will die of hunger. Yet another will leave her country together with her parents, blissfully unaware in her little mind, that she is a person who is now known as a refugee, arriving in a place where she has no identity and with an uncertain future.

I recently visited a building site where they employed migrant workers and was shocked to see children living in shacks and being exposed to hazardous conditions. Yet this is home for them and the joy they bring to their parents who themselves face an unknown future.

Consider the words of this song

A child is the future; a child is the dawn
New hopes arrives when a child is born
A child is tomorrow if only she is free
from the cruel chains of poverty

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