Youth speak out on poverty

Young people in Cayman are voicing their opinions on poverty as the Islands, for the first time, observe International Youth Day this Saturday.

‘Many people in other countries are poor, but appreciate what they have,’ said teenager Zamayra Castro-Tatum.

‘We’re lucky by comparison, and we should realise that they don’t have everything we have – even shoes – so we should give thanks to God!’

Initiated by the UN, the youth day observance is held annually on 12 August. This year, the theme is Tackling Poverty Together. Around the globe, participating organisations are promoting youth involvement, and holding discussions and public events, to increase poverty awareness, said a GIS press release.

In addition to monetary poverty, however, Zamayra noted that that many young people are also poor in self-esteem. They should value themselves more, ‘especially girls,’ she said.

‘We’re supposed to keep ourselves good – this especially includes how we look and act when we go out,’ Zamayra explained. ‘We shouldn’t put ourselves or others down, but should live in a way that others will admire us.’

A high school senior who is a talented footballer, Zamayra is preparing to go to Cuba this summer to play for the Latinas team. She hopes to pursue a career in professional football and/or law.

Andrew Walton also has views on poverty, from an education perspective: ‘With the Cayman Islands becoming a much more competitive market, young people need education in order to have the advantage,’ he said. Heeding his own advice, Andrew leaves the comforts of home in early September to undertake studies at Camosun University in Victoria, British Colombia.

His comments were echoed by Sedroy Clarke, who believes that education and sharing are prime ways to overcome poverty.

‘Families who have more should help the less-fortunate families, especially with education opportunities,’ he pointed out.

Even at his young age, Sedroy said he is determined to shape his own future. The recent high school graduate is working with a design and construction company over the summer, and will soon start University College of the Cayman Islands studies, majoring in computer technology.

Adding her opinion, teenager Kristina Wright said, ‘We should be thankful. Many children here have it all, but young people don’t realise, or appreciate, how much they have. Every local child should try to really understand what poverty is about, and how it feels.

‘If I were to become successful, and gain fame and fortune, I would give much of what I have to people who are well in need of it,’ she said.

Over the summer Kristina is working at Animal House. She’s is preparing to finish her high school education, and then plans to pursue a career in dance.

Kristina also spoke about opportunities and attitudes: ‘There are limits to opportunities, and even to life itself, for young people living in poverty,’ she acknowledged. ‘However, I feel that when a young person grows up in poverty, they gain a stronger appreciation of hard work and personal responsibility, and how it feels to work from a very young age. They really appreciate what little they have.’

Cayman’s International Youth Day is supported by the National Youth Commission.

For more information on International Youth Day, log on to www.un.org.youth. For more information on the National Youth Commission, call 946-6151 or e-mail [email protected].

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