Small Voices Big Dreams

Small Voices, Big Thoughts

La Paz, Bolivia

Nestor, 11, lives in La Paz, Bolivia. “I think it is important to listen to children’s voices,” he says. “Boys without love grow to be aggressive. Parents’ love is important for children. It gives them more security and self-confidence.”

Reporting by ChildFund International staff members

Today is Universal Children’s Day, when ChildFund Alliance releases its annual Small Voices, Big Dreams survey. Almost 6,000 children in 44 countries (in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia) answered questions about what their fears are, what they’d do if they were their country’s leader and what they consider their rights. Here are some memorable responses from children in countries where ChildFund works.

Hoan of Vietnam

Hoan, 12, of Vietnam:

Adults mistreat children who are alone. Because some children do not have anyone who cares for them and protects them, adults mistreat them. I will create a safe environment for children so they can live safely and happily. I will open a free school for orphaned children who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school before.


Teresa of Mexico

Teresa with her younger siblings.

Teresa, 12, of Mexico:

There are parents who always tell their kids that they are not capable of doing certain things, and I think that is really wrong because we feel a lot of pressure, and over time, we’ll be afraid of expressing ourselves.





Jeferino of Timor-Leste

Jeferino, 12, of Timor-Leste:

We are children. We also have the right to play, but most of the adults limit us. When we play, they come to chase us away because they are adults, and we are children. And we can’t do anything.

Agnes, 12, of Zambia:

If I become a leader, I will make sure everyone knows and protects children’s rights.

Agnes gathers maize for her family.

Agnes gathers maize for her family.


Jonathan of Mexico

Jonathan, outside his home.

Jonathan, 11, of Mexico:

I think it is really important to listen to children’s opinions because people shouldn’t make decisions for them or force them to do anything.

Children Have the Right to Be Free From Violence

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

Violence against children remains a terrible problem, according to children themselves. Today — on the 25th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child — hundreds of children say their right to be protected from violence is not being upheld.

Gangs, political strife and child labor are issues in many developing countries, where only 30 percent of children polled say they are always or often protected from doing harmful work.

ChildFund Alliance released the fifth annual Small Voices, Big Dreams report today, a survey of 6,040 children ages 10 to 12 in 44 countries. Poor access to education also is a concern among children in developing countries.

This year, as the United Nations prepares to decide on its post-2015 global agenda, the Alliance, a network of 12 international development organizations (including ChildFund International), has launched a campaign called Free From Violence to motivate world leaders to prioritize the protection of children against violence and exploitation.

“A quarter century ago, leaders across the globe made a commitment to the world’s children, that we would help them reach their full potential by protecting, educating and nurturing them. While much progress has been made, it is abundantly clear that we still have a long way to go. Harming even one child is one child too many,” says Anne Lynam Goddard, ChildFund’s president and CEO.

Below, see a slideshow of children holding signs that spell out their rights according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Children Voice Concerns and Ideas in Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey

By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer

Children are interested in law and order, according to ChildFund Alliance’s 2013 Small Voices, Big Dreams survey. We asked 6,500 children ages 10 to 12 in 47 countries about violence, peace, happiness and their heroes, in the fourth year of this global project.

One question was about what they would do if they were in charge of their country. One in three children said they would create stronger anti-violence laws. Three in four believe violence is caused by bad behavior, poverty or alcohol and drugs.


Shravan (center) and his two younger siblings.

Shravan, 11, of India, says that he would enact “a new stringent law to punish all those who commit crimes on children. I would have police arrest and punish those who ever tease girls while going to school. I would stop the sale of alcohol as it fuels much violence in villages.”

And 40 percent of children in Sierra Leone say they would guarantee children’s personal safety, a high priority for children in Ethiopia and Guatemala as well.

Children also weighed in on what they think is the most important issue for them and their families, a question on the United Nations My World Survey, which is helping global leaders define post-2015 development goals.

A good education is important to 65 percent of the children who answered, with protection against crime and violence, gender equality and better health care also ranking high.

Pedro of Timor-Leste

Pedro and his rooster.

“When the rain comes and floods, I cannot go to school,” says Pedro, 12, of Timor-Leste, where 80 percent of children say everyone should get a good education. “I feel sad because I have no chance to learn new lessons.”

Children also shared who their heroes are. It may come as no surprise that family members are heroes for almost half of the respondents, with political leaders and activists coming in at a distant second place. Superman is a hero to 13 percent of Paraguay respondents.

Hearing children’s voices and opinions on important issues is critical to ChildFund’s mission, as we work to help children become empowered, independent and successful adults.

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.

Small Voices, Big Dreams

The Small Voices, Big Dreams survey, conducted by the ChildFund Alliance, asked more than 3,000 children worldwide some simple questions.

We believe their answers will touch your heart.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 975 other subscribers

Follow me on Twitter