“Friends! We live in an age of rapid globalisation. We are connected through high-speed Internet. We exchange our goods and services in one single global market, thousands of flights connect us from one corner to another corner of the globe. But there is one serious disconnect, and that is a lack of compassion.
Let us inculcate and transform this individuals’ compassion into a global compassion. Let us globalise compassion.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world . . . we shall have to begin with the children.” I humbly add, let us unite the world through the compassion for our children.
I ask: Whose children are they who stitch footballs, yet have never played with one
Whose children are they who harvest cocoa, yet have never tasted chocolate? Whose children are they who are kidnapped and held hostage? They are all our children I remember an eight-year-old girl we rescued from intergenerational forced labour from stone quarries. And she was sitting in my car right after her rescue she asked: “Why didn’t you come earlier?”
Her angry question still shakes me—and has the power to shake the whole world. Her question is for all of us. What are we doing? What are we waiting for? How many girls will we allow to go without rescue? Children are questioning our inaction and watching our actions. We need collective actions with a sense of urgency. Every single minute matters, every single child matters, every single childhood matters.
Therefore, I challenge the passivity and pessimism surrounding our children. I challenge this culture of silence, this culture of neutrality. I call upon all the governments, intergovernmental agencies, businesses, faith leaders, workers, teachers and NGOs, and each one of us, to put an end to all forms of violence against children. Slavery, trafficking, child marriages, child labour, sexual abuse, and illiteracy: these things have no place in any civilised society.
Friends, we can do this.”