22 August 2011
The young people of Panama are spreading the news about human rights like never before.
Panama’s Freedom and Social Development Foundation (FLYDES), which represents Youth for Human Rights International in Panama, provides a comprehensive education of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Using such tools as the documentary film The Story of Human Rights, the 30 Rights 30 Ads public service announcements, the United music video on DVD, and the accompanying Educator’s Manuals, these dedicated young activists are making human rights a reality across their nation. FLYDES organizers report: “This has been a successful way to raise awareness of the rights Panamanians have and of their responsibilities as part of Mankind, producing valuable advocates for tolerance and peace.”
To measure the unmet needs in each area, volunteers surveyed more than 15,000 people, asking what human rights were more important and what rights were the most violated in Panama. They then engaged in a host of activities around the country:
“We delivered more than 300 human rights educational seminars using the human rights videos (PSAs) and distributed more than 14,800 Universal Declaration of Human Rights pamphlets in the district of San Miguelito.
“The human rights training of 122 ‘Community Leaders of Impact’ in San Miguelito allowed us to directly reach 18,137 students.
“This year there were more than 70,000 people reached indirectly through the materials being distributed by friends and family in neighborhoods.
“With the help of the city council of San Miguelito, we collaborated with ANAM (National Authority for the Environment) to plant 300 trees in order to help the environment.
“We worked with children to design and print 300 human rights coloring books so they could easily learn and teach others their human rights.”
But the really big news that FLYDES volunteers were excited to share was the television exposure they secured. “We aired the [30 Rights 30 Ads] PSAs on Channel 11 — SERTV (national television) — from May to December, an approximate viewership of 600,000 each week!” And when YHRI’s Dr. Mary Shuttleworth came through Panama with the Youth for Human Rights World Tour 2010, she and Panama’s youth representative, Niko Papaheraklis, were interviewed on Channel 2 (TVN), one of Panama’s largest television channels, which also aired YHRI’s The Story of Human Rights in its entirety.
The Youth for Human Rights World Educational Tour 2010 stop in Panama included visits to orphanages, universities, and like-minded organizations. Meetings with top dignitaries were held which opened up new avenues for the delivery of Human Rights Education.
Niko Papaheraklis also spoke about the accomplishments of FLYDES at the 2010 International Human Rights Summit in Geneva, Switzerland where he served as Panama’s Youth Country Delegate and Chairperson of its Human Rights Education Panel. Niko wrote this about his experiences with YHRI:
“Ever since I was a young boy I have always had a strong desire to help.... In the beginning of 2010, I had the opportunity to participate with the launch of the Human Rights World Tour 2010.... We brought human rights onto the airwaves of Panama and into the White House of Panama.
Panama’s Channel 2 (TVN) and Channel 11 (SERTV) have now aired the 30 Rights 30 Ads public service announcements for two years, informing hundreds of thousands of viewers each week. As a result of grassroots outreach by volunteers and the extensive TV coverage of the Youth for Human Rights campaign in Panama, millions of people in Panama now know their universally recognized human rights.