ABOUT THIS EXHIBITION
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Children of all ages have been among the most vulnerable to the numerous direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic. According to the United Nations, 94% of the world’s student population has been impacted by the closure of schools, and 150 million children have been plunged into poverty. The disease itself, as well as the steps taken to prevent its spread, are threatening the physical, social, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of children in more than 190 countries around the world. But how do children themselves feel about this unprecedented crisis? What do they have to say? What do they long for? And what is the view of adults about the impact of the pandemic on children and their role in supporting and protecting them? With a commitment to listening to children with empathy and respect, we reached out to children and young people from all regions of the globe to ask them to help us understand, from their own perspective, how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their lives. This exhibition highlights what they had to say. It contains articles, artworks, and multimedia projects by more than 150 children from all around the world, telling us what it is like to be a child amid a pandemic, and how it feels to be unable to go to school, interact freely with others, or even go outside or leave their homes. The children invite us to remain faithful and united as one human family, despite the challenges we all face. They urge us to join them in action to overcome this crisis and build a better world for all children. And to foster inter-generational dialogue, the exhibition also presents the voices of adults and their commitment to creating a better future for children and young people. We invite you to immerse yourself in the exhibition. Learn the facts about COVID-19 in Room 1. Put yourself in children’s shoes in Room 2. Listen to adults and their efforts to support children in Room 3. Finally, join the conversation in Room 4 by sharing your recommendations for cooperative action to create a better future for children and young people. We invite you to listen, share and act. Welcome!
This virtual exhibition is taking place in the context of the Online Global Week of Faith in Action for Children organized in November 2020 by Arigatou International, in cooperation with UNICEF, Religions for Peace, Shanti Ashram, World Vision International and KAICIID Dialogue Center, to foster inter-generational dialogue to reflect on the impacts of COVID-19 on children's well-being and catalyze joint actions and compelling new approaches to protect, support and empower children.The exhibition would not have been possible without the valuable support of the organizations mentioned above, as well as Bahá’í Community, Focolare Movement, International Network of Engaged Buddhists, New York Board of Rabbis, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, World Bank, and World Council of Churches, as well as the support of the members of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) around the world and Ethics Education trainers and facilitators, to all of whom we express our most sincere gratitude.Our special gratitude goes to Miyochikai, Shanti Ashram, and Scholas Occurrentes for their unwavering support in creating spaces for children and young people to reflect on their experiences and for collecting their contributions for this exhibition.Our wholehearted thanks go to each and every child who participated in this exhibition. Thank you for taking the time to share your views, comments, and feelings, for opening your hearts, and allow us to understand the challenges you face during these times. Thank you for your contributions, for your support, patience, sensibility, and wisdom.Special thanks to Sandra Yépez, who coordinated the development of this exhibition and whose creativity and commitment greatly contributed to bringing it to life. Thanks also go to Nicky Howard for his support and to other Arigatou International staff members who supported the mobilization of partners and contributions from many children around the world.Last but not least, we express our gratitude to Layout Index for the design and development.
MESSAGE FROM REV. KEISHI MIYAMOTO PRESIDENT, ARIGATOU INTERNATIONAL
As you know, children have been among the most vulnerable to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. I believe that their voices must be heard as we all try to respond to the challenges of this prolonged pandemic and beyond. I am also convinced that children have an essential role to play in building a better world where the human dignity of each and every person is affirmed, a world where our faith is strengthened and we all work in solidarity with one another. This Global Week is a part of Arigatou International’s global campaign, Faith in Action for Children, which we launched in March of this year. During this week, we aim to foster much-needed interfaith, intergenerational dialogue among children and adults, including religious leaders and other leaders caring for the future of children. These conversations will focus on education, poverty, and violence against children — all issues worsened by the pandemic — as well as children’s views on the future they would like to see. Our hope is that the dialogue will spark a variety of new, collaborative actions, for and with children. The Global Week will culminate on November 20, the Day of Prayer and Action for Children, which each year brings together people around the world to pray and take action for child rights. This year, the voices of children will be more central than ever in celebrations of the World Day. This is also an important year for Arigatou International, as we are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC). With the anniversary, we are revisiting the ten “Panama Commitments” to end violence against children made by all the participants at the 5th Forum of the GNRC in 2017. We are reaffirming our determination to work with faith communities around the world and all of our other partners to help stop the exacerbation of violence and poverty that is so terribly affecting children’s wellbeing today. I sincerely hope that, together, we can make the issues affecting children today more visible in the international community and ensure they are directly addressed by all pandemic recovery plans. Let us all act in solidarity, seizing this critical moment to make the positive changes children need in our rapidly changing world.