Young Saudis dwell on problems facing society

Jeddah, December 31: Children are the present and future of a nation and their talents have to be appreciated and properly honed for a peaceful and united nation, a conference here was told Thursday.

The conference at Dar Al-Hekma, organized by Geras, a nonprofit organization, noted that the current year was coming to an end with hopes for a better 2012.

“Children are a nation’s present and future that’s why we believe that their opinion should be heard and expressed and their talents sculptured, in our hope for a united and peaceful nation created by these future pioneers who will be capable of creating for us a brighter tomorrow,” said Ebtihal Shabaan, Executive Manager of the Geras’s conference.

Geras believes that children have a right to be heard and wants to spread that ideology to society through its conferences. Ten speakers and a presenter, all between the ages of 9-12, dwelt on different issues being faced by society and scientifically analyzed their reasons and solutions and their personal opinion of ways to help society overcome them.

They left the audience with mixed emotions about a nation they love with all their heart.
They discussed poverty, education, the high cost of housing, unemployment and child custody with an interview conducted by the children with specialists on most topics.

Poverty was discussed by Rawaa Tihami who made it clear that it was the result of unemployment which is caused by an inadequate education. Tihami spoke on the issue with great passion. “I felt sorry for the children I met on a trip to underdeveloped areas in Jeddah and thought it was my mission to discuss this issue on their behalf and find solutions in the hopes of helping them live better.” She said that she hoped a strict implementation of the Zakat distribution system, as was envisaged during the caliphate of Omar Bin Khattab, would root out poverty.

Duaa Amer, a first-timer at Geras, discussed education and the misconceptions between the curriculum and the syllabus. The syllabus, she said, is the book while the curriculum is the entire learning experience of the delivery and perception of information Rafaah Sahab, psychology department instructor at King Abdulaziz University, and founder of Geras, was interviewed by Duaa about the learning process and the education system. “I hope that the nation works on the education system a lot more giving it the freedom to bring out generations that we can be truly proud of.”

She said: “In the medical field, it’s a matter of the life or death of a patient, while in education, it’s a case of the life or death of an entire nation.”

Hassan Attas researched the high cost of housing and its effects on society and children especially since 70 percent of Saudis do not own their own homes which forces them to pay an average of SR35,000 on rent annually while the average income of a Saudi is SR3,000 a month.

According to Attas, stability is an important factor in a child’s life and its lack leads to the child’s inability to achieve good grades or maintain a stable personality. Attas interviewed Abdul Hameed Al-Omari, an economics writer and analyst, on his view on the issue of the high cost of living and the King’s initiative regarding housing and housing funds. “It is a great initiative from our beloved King but it will take time and a lot of effort in the field of electricity, water and transportation,” Al-Omari said.

The issue of child custody in Saudi Arabia was discussed by Suda Al-Shishani who spoke on behalf of children with separated parents. “Not every parent is capable of raising a child and sometimes children are not always put with the right parent,” said Al-Shishani. According to her research, when children are put with the wrong parent, they are doomed to a life that might lead to failure in their studies and later life.

Abdulrahman Al-Mihdar passionately discussed unemployment through the eyes of citizens while breaking down the reasons behind the phenomenon. “When we asked companies why they did not employ Saudis some checked the “other” box in our questionnaire leaving me with doubts about their sincerity.” Al-Mihdar brought in Ahmed Abdulkareem who gave parents the key to their children’s future. “If you plant the idea of a path in your child’s head from day one, at some point he will know where he is heading and what it is that he will do, thus making him more productive and successful simply with the existence of an idea.”
The audience and attendees left with a lot to think about and so much pride in their nation as the conference ended with beautiful songs written and sung by Rabee Hafiz and Al-Farabi group.Awards for pioneers

The conference not only celebrated the nation, but also the pioneers who are the pride and joy of the nation.
Young Faris Al-Najjar and Khadeeja Makhdoom presented awards to media icon Mohamed Al-Rotyaan for giving people a voice through his writings, inventor Mishal Al-Harassani, who has contributed to the disabled through a number of inventions, and Uturn Productions, which has given YouTube a taste of Saudi stand-up comedy.

One of the most important awards was given to Abdullah Al-Jeffrey, the first chief of the Passports Department in Saudi Arabia, who spoke about his days in office. Al-Jeffery was all praise for the children participating in the event. “It gives me joy to be amongst this generation of outspoken, talented and passionate children. I am truly proud of them,” he said. — SGDefinitions of a nation and patriotism

Geras’s agenda started with an interview done by Mohammed Bazaid, presenter of the show Quarter to Nine on YouTube, with three of Geras’s children, Khadeeja Makhdoom (11), Sanaa Mohamed (12) and Lama Tonkul (11), on the definition of a nation and patriotism. The children spoke their views freely and competently. “A nation is the place that offers a citizen a dignified life with fulfilled needs, national security and an education system to help him become productive and innovative,” Makhdoom said.

Sanaa Mohamed said: “My love for my country doesn’t lessen if it has not given me what I want. Our nation has given us so much we dare not love it less when it comes up short.”

Tonkul’s opinion on what every child should offer its nation is to excel academically at all levels. “We should develop every skill we have to give the nation power through our knowledge and be as independent as possible.”

Patriotism knows no ethnicity or regional background in Makhdoom’s opinion. “If I speak a certain dialect or live in the capital rather than a village or the coastal city, it does not make me more patriotic or more a citizen than the others. We are all as one.”

Courtesy: Saudi Gazette