I think most of us had no idea of what to expect when we first joined the camp. Not that we didn’t know anything about children’s rights, we just didn’t know what ‘questionnaire’ we were supposed to be developing. My knowledge of these rights was limited to “Basic necessities, security and education”, so it can’t be that hard, right? However, that was before I took a good look at all the articles in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There were so many! All the participants in the camp were quite overwhelmed by the range of rights entitled to any child, to say the least.
The thing is, although the Convention is about children, it was definitely not created to be read by the children themselves. All of us had a hard time concentrating on sentences that took up about 5 lines with words that are most definitely used in everyday conversation! At these times, we ended up checking out the word definitions on the internet. We also had to ask the adults to help us out from time to time when we were feeling sluggish after a whole day of trying to understand paragraphs that not many people even bother to read!
All of us got the hang of coming up with questions quite quickly, but the finer details were the hardest, to me. For instance, we can just ask questions that are too straight forward like “Are you abused at home?” and just leave it at that. We had to keep the questions as short and simple as possible. The trick was to phrase the question just right so that we can gain information for surveys and such things. Besides, there were quite a few things that we average children in Malaysia wouldn’t even know about, so we had to exclude those questions.
By the last day, all of us had had enough of the articles, and instead of writing down questions, we were doodling on the post-it notes provided. But thankfully, the adults at Knowing Children took our rights very VERY seriously, so they let us have our “playtime” of sorts! Although it was a lot of work, we had lots of fun doing it too, but we never forgot that we were playing our parts to help the children in Malaysia know their rights well, and use it better.