Haneen continues to advance the rights of children and young people
Haneen’s interest in human rights - especially children's rights - started early. In 2018, the youth worker of SOS Children’s Villages informed Haneen about the idea of establishing a youth council. The counsellor asked all the young people who would be interested to apply, so she did.
In the youth council, there are 12 members, who plan and implement different initiatives. They discuss what young people and children need, but also what kind of support the community around them needs. Another role they play is to bring the children's problems and issues to the attention of the relevant adults. Haneen has always been excited about the different activities or project opportunities at SOS Children’s Villages. Even as a child, she participated in everything possible that was offered.
In these youth council meetings, all participants discuss different activities and decide together what will be implemented. If everyone agrees, the idea is presented to the youth advisor. One of Haneen's favourite projects is when they volunteered in the neighbourhood. For example, the group has worked together to help renovate the homes of people who are elderly or sick.
Through these activities, the community grows, bonding with each other and gaining new experiences at the same time. Haneen says, "We love to help others grow." The youth council has already carried out many projects in the meantime and the young people receive a lot of praise and recognition for this from the neighbourhood, but also from other young people.
Haneen is a 19-year-old girl who lives in Hebron. At the age of three, she and her twin sister came to the SOS Children's Village in Bethlehem. She grew up there until the age of 14 when she could be reunited with her family in Hebron. Today, she is studying law and continues to fight for the rights of children.
A bridge between children and adults
The young people also received training on how to speak more confidently with adults, as well as how to encourage children to do so. They have done many activities with children, gaining their trust. Children in the SOS Children’s Village also come to the youth council with concerns or issues they want to be heard.
Building a bridge between children and responsible adults is especially important because children need someone they can talk to and trust. Being a youth council member is a good way to build this bridge. Haneen sees herself as a translator who confidently gathers the needs of the children and then passes them on to the responsible decision-makers. Children feel that the young people from the youth council know their concerns well, so they can be trusted and they can understand the children’s issues more easily.
Advocating for children’s rights
Haneen started to learn about children's rights when she was a child. There were child protection programs that offered different trainings for children and Haneen always volunteered for them because she wanted to learn more. The first initiative that Haneen supported was about children without citizenship and she also worked on advocacy projects for children's rights and attended trainings about child protection. During this time, Haneen was selected to speak about children's rights in alternative care. Haneen went to a conference with other young people from Palestine and represented the SOS Children's Village. Then, in 2018, Haneen was selected to attend a program at the UN to share her story.
The many experiences Haneen had as a teenager about human rights and children's rights helped her to choose her field of study — law.
Haneen is now also a member of the Academy for Children's Rights in Palestine. There, she fights for the implementation of various child protection laws. These types of laws already exist in other countries, but in Palestine, they urgently need to be adopted. Since her initial work with children without citizenship, she is committed to ensuring that this group of children have their rights recognized. This initiative is already having its first successes and laws have already been adopted. Groups are also being formed to give lectures in schools to inform children about their rights.
When asked how she manages her studies and all her other activities, Haneen laughs and says: “I manage it all only with the support of SOS Children’s Villages and with a lot of organization and strict time management.”