As soccer matches and volleyball meets draw to a close, youth facilitators from the Children’s Parliament, an elected delegation of children from across Yemen’s provinces, mix and match children from every team into small groups. Those who were competitors on the field, now become partners off of it. Once everyone has learned everyone else’s name, the peer volunteers will begin to engage the children by asking a series of questions, including:
• If you were the leader of the world, what would you do to help children?
• What is the role of the United Nations in protecting children?
• What should you do if someone is abusing you? Who should you call?
• Who can you trust?
Thus, the children are directly engaged and gain a greater understanding of their rights and how to protect them.
The tournaments have reached out to more than 600 Yemeni youth. Many of the former participants have gone on to become leading voices for children's rights, as well as mentors to other Yemeni children. A number of participants have also volunteered at other children's rights events sponsored by the Democracy School.
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
The project's mission, message, and infrastructure are all in place, but the main concern over the next three years is funding. According to my projections, the tournament will cost $3,994 to conduct over the course of five days/300 participants.
When I returned to Yemen in the summer of 2008, word of the 2007 tournament spread quickly throughout Yemen's streets. There was an air of excitement and children yearned for updates as to when the 2008 tournament would be held. This excitement endures and the only way to ensure the future of the soccer tournament is to secure a long-term sponsor.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
The only foreseeable obstacle to the success of my project is a deficit in finances. The tournaments have succeeded historically and will continue to do so as the volunteers remain committed and the clear message endures. The only question is whether or not funding will be at the Democracy School's disposal.