Trina Hoti is a child rights advocate and mentor in the ROR Group. She is 19 years old, comes from Prishtina and is a second-year student in the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Prishtina. “What will you become when you grow up?” is the question commonly asked by adults versus children, who are characterized by the boundless exercise of the imagination want to become firefighters, teachers or singers. Similarly, after dreaming of becoming a news teacher or moderator, as I grew older I remembered that my desires began to be built on the needs I encountered in the community where I lived, from adding toys to the city park to enriching myself with books. were missing from the school library.
With such desires that often sounded unattainable by just one individual, in 2013 when I was just 12 years old, I started the world of child rights advocacy in which I learned that my little voice mattered a lot, and where I was educated about my rights, and even how I could become the voice of those who were reluctant or unaware of the rights that were guaranteed to them.
From the activities held at the level of the school “Naim Frashëri”, in 2015 I was elected as its delegate to the Municipal Assembly of Children – Prishtina, which was re-established by Save the Children in Kosovo and the NGO “Syri i Vizionit” in cooperation with the Municipality of Prishtina. In the Assembly I exercised the role of chairwoman and the experience in representing the needs, concerns and requests of children at the municipal level to the decision-making institutions of the capital over three (3) years will remain unforgettable and at the same time stimulating my growth as an advocate for children’s rights .
Despite my involvement in the assembly, my interest in children’s rights and everything related to them, there was nowhere better to practice than in the Respect Our Rights – ROR children monitoring group, which I knew and could not wait to join. . So in 2017 I became part of the ROR, first as a member and then as chairwoman of the group. In 2018, when I was elected as such, in ROR we had decided to modify the structuring of members in commissions with a specific nature of advocacy, and I also chaired the Textbook Monitoring Commission, which during that year published the next research of ROR group: “Gap, curriculum and its implementation”, a report that brought interesting data conducted by questionnaires with children and teachers on topics such as: level of information about new teaching curricula, attitudes of students and teachers about whether or not to custody hours, school hours and students in the test period, etc.
“Leading a mandate in the ROR was a very dynamic and above all unique experience in providing the opportunity for collaboration with group members and support organizations, as well as with the institutional actors we focused on.”
During October of that year, an important event for both ROR and the country was the European Week of Action for Girls, in which I was chosen by the members to vote to represent the group. and Kosovo for the first time among many other countries in the world. This event, which is organized every year by a wide coalition of international organizations, among which is Save the Children, aims at direct lobbying of female delegates from different EU countries and not only, to the institutions of the latter.
Given that the European Parliament elections would be held in May 2019, the agenda of the week was designed in such a way that the 27 delegate girls from different countries sought to increase the engagement of MEPs in girls’ affairs worldwide. So during my stay in Brussels I had the honor to raise my voice about the importance of involving girls in decision-making during meetings in the European Parliament with MPs such as: Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (Swedish MP and chair of the group for children’s rights in the European Parliament) , Julie Ward (British MP, Member of the Delegation for Relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and Member of the Children’s Rights Group), and Nathalie Griesbeck (French Member of Parliament and Vice-Chair of the Children’s Rights Group in Parliament European). Also, a special meeting for me was the one with the officials of the Desk for Kosovo within the European Commission, who shared their satisfaction with the information about the existence and the contribution that ROR made in Kosovo. The week ended with the celebration of the International Girl Child Day – October 11 in an activity that gathered people from different profiles but with the common goal, that of improving respect for the rights of girls.
For me, without a doubt, the European Girl Action Week remains one of my most beautiful experiences and with the greatest responsibility on my shoulders, because it was the first time I was representing the voice of my country’s children internationally and also Kosovo’s own participation was for the first time. In addition to the pleasure and honor of meeting dozens of girls I would not have imagined sharing so many things and common challenges, meeting dozens of key EU officials and world-renowned organizations who listened with curiosity and seriousness to ideas and My concerns as a Kosovar girl, the experience in this event has increased my training as an advocate for children’s rights. Meanwhile, after returning from Brussels, my blog was published on the Save the Children website about my experience as a delegate there and part of the ROR, as well as during the March 8 holiday, inviting me to participate in her virtual campaign. Asking questions of candidates for the presidency of the European Parliament, I had the opportunity to get an answer from the then candidate Franz Timmermans (MP of the Social Democratic Party) on what potential chairmen would do for girls living in non-EU countries.
Of course my engagement in the ROR Group did not stop there. On November 20 (Universal Children’s Rights Day) 2018, the ROR was the protagonist of the highest meeting in the country – which was held a year after the adoption of the Resolution on the Rights of the Child by the children present in the Assembly of Kosovo and its submission to the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament – but that characteristic of this year was the demand for accountability regarding the implementation of this resolution to the five (5) ministers of the most important ministries (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare; Ministry of Defense; Ministry of Justice), the Speaker of Parliament and other officials present, the EU Ambassador to Kosovo, etc. In this meeting, I had the pleasure to speak on behalf of the children’s delegation and to express the challenges, obstacles and the feeling of being a child in Kosovo. The meeting, in addition to being closely followed by the media and the attendees, was a special success for me with the distribution of my speech on Facebook social media, which obviously gave due importance to the celebration of November 20 of that year .
November 20 is preceded by the celebration of June 1, which during 2018 was marked not one day, but five (5) days a week within the campaign “Every day should be June 1” and where full five days were organized activities in various municipalities and was crowned with chairing the meeting with the Prime Minister of the country on the occasion of the launch of the National Strategy for the Rights of the Child.
Another important issue remains climate change and environmental problems, to which the ROR has responded in a timely manner. During March 2019, when the #FridaysforFuture protests were being organized worldwide every Friday, a movement started by 17-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, ROR organized the first children’s march in Kosovo which was held in the center of Prishtina with children carrying slogans with messages for the protection of our planet. I am happy that I was part of the initiating team and we realized this activity which somewhat grabbed the attention of passers-by in the city squares, the media and our destination, the Government and the Assembly of the Republic, where we stopped to give our messages and requests as a child.
From April 2019 my experience with ROR took on another dimension, that of being the group mentor. This is because with the completion of adulthood the regular membership is transferred to the voluntary one or to the mentor duty. I still continue to develop this task and I can say that it is a very pleasant experience and from another angle, from the direct engagement in giving and realizing ideas in support and conveying them. I can not leave without mentioning that the good energy that prevails in ROR is unrepeatable, there I feel at home and really we are a family which every day more and more we are growing with young and enthusiastic children, and it makes me more than proud. To conclude, the message I would like to convey to other children is embodied in my example: of a child with little self-confidence that he could change the park or enrich the school library, to an advocate who participates and engages with dedication in drafting policies at the municipal and state level, advocating for the advancement of those in the EU, meeting with senior state officials and beyond, or chairing two children’s sessions in the plenary hall of the Assembly and many others at different levels.
“All my experience of six years now for me is much more than documenting photos or taking notes, it is what I am today, it is what has channeled me into career choice and allowed me to develop in all ways.”
Such growth makes me realize how important beyond saying cliché, is support. Support from an early age is a determining factor in the individual we produce as a society, so investing in children is the wisest state investment and at the same time fundamental for the achievement of children, translated differently as the realization of rights, which with great passion all generations the children of the ROR Group and I, we ask.