Photo: Athika Phuong

My name is Athika, a 22-year-old university student and a journalist.

I am also a member of the Change Makers Regional Asia-Pacific and a representative of the 2030 Youth Force network in Cambodia. My dream is to see people living in peace, happiness and hope. Even though I come from a poor family, as a youth I persist in seeking peace for my society. By participating in different fields of social work, I try to show other young people that we have the capacity and potential to achieve peace.

The youth delivers peace

Social participation of young people is very important when we seek, build and maintain peace. According to the United Nations Population Fund, more than half of the Cambodian population is youth who are under 30 and are “active citizens” in the country’s development. I believe that if the youth could improve our capacity, we can be driving forces towards positive change. We can be the centre of the machine supporting the decision making that fuels development of our country. Some people may think that young people bring many troubles — but we also bring solutions. Thus, the government should provide more protection and opportunity for the youth.

My concept of volunteerism

Volunteering has greatly and positively changed me and developed my personality. I am willing to volunteer even if there is no financial return. I have taken volunteer work seriously since I began participating because I really want to contribute to my society. I hope that other volunteers also share the same feeling as I do, and that they commit their goals to develop our society. It may not always be fun but our efforts can be seen in society.

My solution to support youth involvement

We all know that the youth are the main machine to produce solutions. But to engage them into the decision-making process is very hard. I consider that they need a main driving force which provides space for them to promote their activities and to encourage them to join social activities. I share success stories to motivate them. For instance, I define the meaning of their participation and tell them how that is crucial to build peace. For me peace means: having a peaceful state of mind and non-violence. Although these ideas are just for me, they make it easy to set my target of social involvement. I imagine that if all youth work for seeking their definition of peace, we can build peace and ensure development.

Writing a blog for International Youth Day is a good opportunity to share my story with three aspects: youth as peace builders, the value of volunteerism and advice to encourage youth involvement. I believe that building peace is an obligation not only of the government, but also of its citizens. If we want peace, we need to be peace builders. Without the first step, we cannot go forward. It is never too late to start. Let’s begin with a small step to achieve bigger dreams of our society’s future.

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