Munadiah, 17, lives in the United Kingdom and volunteers with Islamic Relief.
My name is Munadiah Aftab and I live in London. I am currently studying in college. My hobbies vary widely however my main interest lies in politics. I love public speaking and debating but most of all, I love being right! My passion is to be a voice for the voiceless and I’d like to do this through becoming a human rights lawyer, politician and work for the UN – maybe not all at once, but I’d like to try it all out in order to ensure that I’ve done everything I can to make change.
There are many issues facing young people, but three of the biggest are lack of engagement, lack of awareness and lack of education. There are many young people who have had the same upbringing as me, but due to their lack of awareness of the opportunities around them, they don’t get involved and engage with the local community. Massive stigma around young people has made them feel unwelcome.
Once we have tackled that and created a stronger relationship between young people and older people I believe there will be successful community cohesion taking place. Also, as young people we have become very dependent on the guardians around us. I believe it is very important to emphasise practical education in order to prepare young people for the future.
From a very young age, I’ve engaged myself in charity work. Young people should volunteer as not only will you help a lot people, you will also help yourself. The way in which we participate in society is influenced by our life experiences, and volunteering teaches us about sacrifice, humility and many technical skills that will help us do well and engage better in our communities.
I joined Islamic Relief as a volunteer three years ago and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Islamic Relief is more than a charity: it is a platform in which many people like myself can advocate our ideas, allowing us to channel our passion in the right direction. Islamic Relief allowed me to prosper – it opened up opportunities through which I have been involved in various campaigns. The local campaigns I’ve done have been centred around faith and climate change, which continues to expand. Internationally, I have been involved in raising money for orphaned children and water aid.
Being a volunteer is extraordinary as you do work which helps people across the world on a scale that is impossible to achieve alone. My friends and family have also gotten involved with Islamic Relief, as they can see how beneficial and rewarding it is. Just as Islamic Relief helps people across the world, it is also helping young people. Every summer I see hundreds of volunteers coming into our office to spend their free time helping others. Islamic Relief is providing young people with an opportunity to go out there and help people on an unimaginable scale.
The government and other decision-makers need to understand that we are the future. We will be the ones living the consequences of the decisions being made today – therefore we should have an input into those decisions. Many people are dismissive or undermine young people, they do not understand the potential we have. This potential should be harnessed, not dismissed. Today is International Youth Day, and my message for the world is: today we are youth, tomorrow we are leaders, so brace yourself, because we are in for a ride.