Ziauddin Yousafzi offically cuts the ribbon at the new World Merit offices accompanied by Marlou Hermsen its General Manager and Chris Arnold its Chief Executive
Yesterday I was privileged to attend the opening of the new World Merit organisation in Liverpool. Until recently I had not heard of World Merit. This is an organisation that is a major partner of the United Nations involving young people in all the 180+ Countries in the UNmin action within their communities to further the 17 Strategic Development Goals of the UN. They now have national chapters working in 80+ countries.
These goals are thought of by many as being only applicable to developing countries but most of them relating to topics as diverse as gender equality and basic education; access to health care and decent environments are applicable in differing degrees in every country.
The two speakers exemplified the work being done by World Merit and both pledged to help the organisation expand.
Ahmad Nawaz was one of the few young people to survive the Peshawar School massacre 3 years ago. He was accompanied by Ziauddin Yousafzi who is the father of Malala Yousafzi who shot to world prominence when the Taliban shot her down on the way to school.
Ahmad spoke movingly about his feelings as he escaped from the carnage which had caught up so many of his friends and ended their lives. “I was determined to dedicate my life to ensuring that this would not happen again”, he said. We must not let prejudice win and the only way we can do that is to improve levels of education throughout the world.
The education theme was echoed by Ziauddin Yousafzi who, having run his own schools in Pakistan, is now seeking to raise educational standards especially for young women. “My daughter established a blog when she was just 10”, he said, “for that she was targeted by the Taliban who tried to take the life of a young girl just starting out on her life. We hope that the work being done by my daughter and Ahmad Nawaz will help change things and beat down prejudices worldwide.
That is why we have come here today to support the excellent work being done by World Merit as they work globally in both developed and developing countries, with ambitions based on working in all of them to a much greater degree, to involve young people not only in educational projects but a wide range of community activity in support of the UN”
Chris Arnold, the founder and Chief Executive of World Merit also spoke and said, “we have been honoured to hear today the stories of a young man and a young woman who have survived tragedy and come through them to campaign to change the world and defeat prejudice. They will be fully backed by World Merit and we will be announcing shortly our plans to expand work in Liverpool and the UK alongside an initiative to work with local government leaders globally. It is appropriate that our City, which is the ‘World in One City’ should be the base for this global movement of young people”.
I have said that I want to help World Merit using my global contacts through United Cities and Local Government. I think we should be proud that such an organisation has developed her in Liverpool, “the World in One City”. It is an obvious place to start things off. Although the organisation does not do much with the UK at present they will be announcing over the next three to four months a major initiative in Liverpool linked to an increased presence in the UK.
IF you would like to know more contact Chris Arnold can be contacted on 07740 612728 or e-mail him at Chris@worldmerit.org