Children Dream Big Even When Facing Harsh Realities

by LaTasha Chambers, ChildFund Communications Associate

Despite living in some of the most impoverished areas of the world, children remain optimistic about their futures, according to a new survey commissioned by the ChildFund Alliance.

The second annual Small Voices, Big Dreams global survey provides insight into the minds of some of the world’s most vulnerable and overlooked children from 44 countries.

Almost one in two children in developing countries is focused on a future career requiring a college education, recognizing that education can break the cycle of poverty. One-fifth (22.5 percent) of children who live in developing countries would like to be teachers when they grow up, while 20 percent want to be doctors.

Ethiopian girlHowever, with these children’s optimism comes the reality of daily encounters with crime, hunger and disease. One 11-year-old from Ethiopia shares, “One thing I mostly worry about is HIV/AIDS.” Answers like this from children living in developing countries were not uncommon and reveal the plight many of them face.

By contrast, children in developed countries who participated in the survey expressed few fears – illness and receiving an inadequate education were almost foreign to them. A majority of children in developed nations aspire to be athletes and artists.

“American children have the luxury of setting their career hopes high, but those in developing countries are focused on the single best way to disrupt the cycle of poverty — education, says Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International. “What gives these children, as young as 10 years old, the permission to dream is the recognition that improving their lives is tied closely to the opportunity to learn. Sadly, for too many of these children, that opportunity does not exist. That is why so many ChildFund Alliance member organizations focus so much of our efforts on education.”

In the U.S. the dream of becoming whatever you want to be, even the president of the country, is so real because of the many opportunities that exist.

Afghanistan girlWhen children in developing countries were asked what they would do if they were the leader of their countries, a young girl in Afghanistan responded: “I will not be able to become the president of the Afghanistan, as a woman doesn’t have the right to be the president of Afghanistan.”

We still have much work to do ensure children everywhere are able not only to dream the biggest dream but also to make those dreams reality.

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