Hokuriku Gakuin Middle School
"She's dying. She's going to die soon." When I saw this picture, I was very shocked. Maybe you've seen the picture I'm talking about. In this picture, there is a small Sudanese girl lying on the ground, dying. And, behind her, there is a vulture watching and waiting for her to die.
I saw this picture in my English textbook. It was taken by Pulitzer-Prize winner, Kevin Carter, in 1994. This picture saved many suffering Sudanese children when people saw the picture and decided to help them. And this picture motivated my classmates and me to make an exhibit on many suffering children and people in the world today.
Someone who wants to take the easy way might say, "Ignorance is bliss! This problem has no connection to me. I don't need to know about this." But I think that learning even hard things is very important.
So, this summer, my school's religious committee, which I have been a member of for three years, planned an exhibit on civil wars happening in the world, as well as poverty. We researched five different countries: Sudan, Palestine, Columbia, Rwanda and Chechnya. In our research, we learned that over 10,000 people die every day from war and famine. In Japan, when people die, we can gather correct data on how many people die and why; but in some war-torn countries like Sudan or Iraq, they can only approximate in the tens of thousands of deaths.
From that, we can guess that behind these approximations, the social situation in these countries is so chaotic that they can't even count how many people die. To those of us who live in this peaceful country, we can't imagine the crisis of our lives possibly being taken through violence or starvation. Until I studied this, I couldn't imagine that people exist in such terrible situations in this world that I live in.
After I learned about them, I wanted many people to know the facts. And indeed, over 300 people came to our exhibit, but I want to take on the responsibility to continue to tell others. Through our exhibit, people felt the same way I do.
One person said, "I recognized the cruelty of war through this exhibit." And our teacher told us that this exhibit was so meaningful that we need to continue to do it as a tradition at our school.
When my English teacher told my class about this contest, I knew that this was my opportunity to tell others in my own words about this world's situation. This speech is something I can do now to promote peace. Standing on this stage here is the first step of my mission. The next step in my mission for peace will be to study English abroad. This will allow me to communicate with people from many countries. A journalist's mission is to tell the facts. But I want to do more than that. It is my mission to know the facts and to take action.
(7th Prize in the 57th Contest, 2005)
(C)JNSA FUND/the Yomiuri Shimbun
All of the speeches are copyrighted material of JNSA FUND and The Yomiuri Shimbun, and are protected by the Japanese copyright law.