This year on Sunday, November 20, UNICEF marks the 70th anniversary of our work for children. To mark the occasion writers all over the world, including in Jamaica, were asked to each pen a Tiny Story on the theme ‘what I want for every child’.
Local children’s author and Fight for Peace country manager, Kellie Magnus, reached out to her follow writers and several of them agreed to write and share to social media. Then Jamaicans responded to seeing those stories by publishing their own using the hashtag #foreverychild.
We received stories ranging from joy to self-esteem to play to keeping our children safe from abuse. All of which are republished below. We hope that you enjoy reading them as much as we did. But remember that above all this was all done for every child in Jamaica!
Special thanks to our contributors, in the order that they were published: Ziggy Marley, Geoffrey Philp, Roland Watson-Grant, Leggo Career Jamaica, A’d-Ziko Simba Gegele, Cathryn O’Sullivan, Rebecca Tortello, Kellie Magnus, Mariana Farag, Gavin Myers, Tanya Batson-Savage, Helen Williams, Jamaican Mommies, Priya Anaokar, Melanie Schwapp and Kerron Clarke
The World and the Child by Ziggy Marley
Once upon a time in a land not so far away there was a world and a child. And the world was sad and asked the child can you help me?
The child looked at the world and said SMILE and the world smiled and felt a little better. The child looked at the world again and said breathe and the world took a long deep breath and felt at PEACE.
“Would you like to SHARE my mango with me? It always makes me feel better when I have a mango,” said the child, so they shared and the world felt a little better. Soon the world was feeling less sad, as they played together, danced together and sang together.
Finally the child said “the most special thing you can do not to be sad anymore is LOVE”. The world was confused and asked “how do you love?” so the child gave the world a big hug and said “it’s easy”.
The world was scared at first but eventually the world slowly began to hug the child and it felt good inside, and their SMILES were big as they felt at PEACE to SHARE their LOVE and the world was sad no more.
#ForEveryChild, I wish the grace of wonder by Geoffrey Philp
#ForEveryChild, I wish the grace of wonder.
The plague of adult violence terrorizes our children
From child-soldiers and sex-trafficking to the casual violence of beatings, children’s lives are destroyed by adults who abuse their power.
We can change this.
History has been changed when a few activists confronted threats to our common humanity.
Violence against children is a global threat.
As compassionate global citizens, we must become activists.
Big Alien Machines by Roland Watson-Grant
That summer, the aliens came swarming into the junkyard—big, orange machines with iron claws and monster teeth. They tore down our abandoned hide-and-seek house, threw away our rusty cars and flattened the places where we used to play. But they left the trees standing and rumbled away. Then the people came, with slides and smiles and a ferris wheel. They saved the day. #ForEveryChild, a safer place to play.
Love, Respect & Tolerance by Leggo Career Jamaica
Long ago, those three kingdoms ruled the world in harmony.
Then everything changed when a fourth kingdom rose up … This kingdom was Fear.
The kingdom of Fear sent out warriors by the name of hate, contempt, ignorance to conquer the world.
A hundred years passed, a child by the name of Peace was discovered.
Fear was vanquished along with its warriors only when the world embraced love, respect and tolerance.
Only then can our children experience peace.
Little Sanisha Corisha Sha-Sha Bisha by A’d-Ziko Simba Gegele
It wasn’t that she had no voice but Little Sanisha Corisha Sha-Sha Bisha had lost it.
You see, every time she used her voice her sisters would say, her brother would say, her father, her cousins, her mother would say, ‘Hush, be quiet, stop talking, go away.’
And so her voice went away; it wasn’t under her bed, it wasn’t in the yard, it wasn’t in the road, it wasn’t at school; it was so far, far away that Little Sanisha Corisha Sha-Sha Bisha could not find it.
She felt so sad, so, so very sad and she couldn’t tell anyone because she had no voice.
But then one day some words came whispering inside Little Sanisha Corisha Sha-Sha Bisha’s head and here’s what they said, ‘You have a right to be heard.’
Any time someone would say, ‘Hush, be quiet, stop talking, go away,’ those words would whisper, ‘Little Sanisha Corisha Sha-Sha Bisha, you have a right to be heard.
Little Sanisha Corisha Sha-Sha Bisha closed her eyes and went deep inside and there she found her voice; she was so happy, she opened her mouth and out came a beautiful song, ‘We all have a right to be heard.’
Bloom by Cathryn O’Sullivan
What I want for every child
Is for us to understand that meek and mild
Means they’re not learning,
Means they’re not growing and stretching and blooming.
Because every child deserves to shine, and every child can.
But if we don’t understand that it starts with play and joy and glee,
Then they’ll never really thrive, they’ll never be free.
#foreverychild – safe places to play, learn and be loved by Rebecca Tortello
Let’s play the day away
Let’s run fast, far and wide, then zip down that big red slide
We can make up our own games and use silly made-up names
We can sing our favourite songs plus skip, jump and dance along
We can make up stories and act them out; wiggle, giggle, scream and shout
We’ll have lots of fun and learn, too, as we take turns and show each other what to do
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from ‘cause everyone can play, no matter how old or how young
So, let’s play the day away, are you ready to go?
What I Want for Every Child by Kellie Magnus
Loving arms to hug her tight
A home where he feels safe at night
The blessing of a gentle word
A listening ear so she’ll be heard
Time to learn and laugh and play
All he needs to grow each day
Her name and her identity
His right to all he dreams to be
These are in our power to give
For every child the right to live
The Girl That Was Curiously Happy and Happily Curious by Mariana Farag
Each feather was vibrant to the eyes and soft to the touch: this was the most exquisitely beautiful bird she had ever laid her eyes on.
One afternoon, the bird came to her and said “you too can be anywhere you want to be” and then mysteriously fluttered away.
Bedazzled by what she heard, she daydreamed into the sunset, looking into the sky painted with brush strokes of coral, ivory and gold, and allowed her thoughts to drown into the last glimmer of the sun.
“The bird told me: I can be anywhere I want to be” she whispered to her self, innocently yet with firm conviction.
Her spirit was one of a curious dreamer and so one day, her arms turned into wings made of a delicate plumage that beamed like precious stones.
She took off into the horizon and began an adventure that would last forever- she could now be anywhere she wanted to be.
It was time to go out and explore because she knew that deep down, the world was a special place.
Untold Beauty by Gavin Myers
She was not used to being told she was beautiful.
And one day a little girl, with an impish smile and an infectious grin came to the town and looked at her.
With a bright wide smile showing the gaps where her five-year-old teeth had not come up she walked up to Ebony and said “I love your skin! It’s so beautiful.”
Ebony looked on in wonder at how in all her ten years on Earth she did not get that before and the little sprite took her hand and they walked out to play.
A Girl A Man by Tanya Batson-Savage
“Hold her for me. I soon come back,” the girl had said. That was more than five hours ago. He looked down at the small child curled against his chest and wondered what he was to do. The girl was not coming back. He knew that now. He probably knew that the moment she gave the child to him. He could feel the warmth of the tiny body radiating into his own like when the first kiss of sunlight hits your skin in the morning.
What was he going to do with her? The square was almost empty now and he couldn’t just leave her. The child seemed to read his uncertainty and burrowed deeper into his chest.
It was time to go.
“Wake up child,” he said making sure to speak gentle so the deepness of his voice would not scare her. “Wake up. I have to leave.”
The brown eyes open, they were glazed with sleep but large trusting.
“I have to leave,” he repeated.
“Where we going? The child asked.
“We going home.”
He had nothing else to tell her but the truth. “I don’t think so child.”
He tensed expecting the wail to follow, but none came. And in a way that would continue to stun him for the fifty years left of his life, the child smiled at him and made him feel safe. She slid down from his lap and held out her hand. He took her small hand in his and she curled her fingers around his index finger, holding it firmly but not too tight telling him that she did not feel afraid. Every child deserves to feel safe, he told himself. Every child deserves to be loved. And so did he.
“Alright. Come then no,” the child said.
Together the two walked into the approaching darkness.
What I want #ForEveryChild is Education by Helen Williams
Ky ran round his classroom.
Mrs. Grapple shouted, “Sit down, Ky.” He kept on running.
“You’re a bad boy, Ky. Go outside.”
Mr. Attila grabbed his arm. “Sit here until I come,” he snapped. Ky ran off.
Next day, Mama came to school, holding him tight. Another teacher questioned her, then said,
“Ky, you’re a good boy, but you learn differently from other children. I’ll help you.” And she did.
“you’re a good boy, but you learn differently from other children. I’ll help you.”
Play with me by Jamaican Mommies
I am always so happy, playful and carefree.
I simply want my parents to share this with me.
But they are burdened by work, bills and commitment
I may not understand their lives, but sometimes all I feel is resentment.
I KNOW that they would be more relaxed and have a better day
If only they remembered how to Play
Mommy, Daddy, can’t you see?
Sometimes the best medicine is to play with me!
Every Child by Priya Anaokar
Every child is the Sun that can shine bright
Every child is the Moon that can spread light
Every child is the star that can illuminate the Universe
Every child is the ocean abound with hidden pearls
Within them they hold a galaxy of possibilities
All I ask for every child is world that poet Tagore dreamt of… ‘Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high’
Give them the wings that they need to fly
What I want for children is the right to food by Melanie Schwapp
If I tip with all my might, I can reach the biggest orange.
If I stretch my fingers, they can curl around the golden ball
and I can stuff my mouth.
If I close my eyes, I can remember,
and it will stop the rumble in my tummy.
So I chew and chew on air, the moon still high
in the sky from where I’d tried to pluck it.
Under my bed by Kerron Clarke
Under my bed
They say monsters live there
Under my bed
They say I should fear
But under my bed protect me best
When mommy comes after I fail my test
Under my bed
They say monsters live there
Under my bed they say I should fear
But under my bed protects me fine
When daddy is drunk and out of his mind
Under my bed
I will find a friend indeed
Under my bed
dear lord I plead
Protect me from my parents please