A 17-year-old boy who lives with an SOS family in Chile addressed global leaders at an event at the United Nations in New York on 11 July.
Franco Lumán, who has lived at SOS Children’s Village Chimávida in Chile since he was six years old, called for young people’s rights to be listened to in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are tied to the principle of leaving “no one behind”.
Speaking ahead of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), Franco, who was chosen to represent the views and concerns of his regional peers, said he was honoured to participate in the conference.
“If I now had the chance to speak to a politician or a president, I would tell him about what is happening here in Chile. I would tell him about the numbers of vulnerable children, about those who come from abusive homes, about those who come from homes where they cannot voice their opinions,” he said.
He delivered a speech to an audience of UN member states and representatives of civil society groups, gathered to share views on how to help measure the progress made in meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Heidi Berner Herrera from Chile’s Ministry of Social Development also attended.
Franco appealed for development and social policies to take into consideration the needs and aspirations of young people, with a focus on equal opportunities for all to help break the cycle of poverty and exclusion so that future generations can be active and equal participants in society.
He stressed the need for there to be greater awareness of the plight faced by those growing up with foster parents or in alternative care units, having been separated from their families.
“Parents need to be given support so that they can support their children and prevent suffering and separation. It is cyclical. If the parents suffer, the children suffer too. If we resolve this problem we can resolve it for future generations.”
The 17-year-old was joined by youth representatives from across Latin America and the Caribbean – a region which has seen consistent results to improve the lives of children – although staggering gaps continue to leave millions of children and their families at risk.
A global movement
In taking part in the forum, Franco represented more than 100 children and young people involved in the process supported by the Global Movement for Children in Latin America and the Caribbean, of which SOS Children’s Villages is a member.
SOS Children’s Villages works with more than 100,000 children, adolescents and young people, in countries across the region. The organisation also supplies direct care to 12,900 children in the form of alternative care mechanisms.
SOS Children’s Villages is committed to preparing young people to build independent lives by providing access to education and specialised programmes to help them prepare for their careers and lives as adults. A number of the UN SDGs are central to its programmes which centre on building the capacities and resilience of children and families.
The conference will conclude on 19 July.
Watch how young people speak about equality at an event on Sustainable Development:
Read more about SOS Children’s Villages and the SDGs.