You sit with Lama Younis and you immediately feel her energy, and the source of her fiery commitment to children. She set up “The Lama Campaign” to help erase the taboo of child abuse and to provide child protection and advocacy for Muslim children and youth. Here she talks to Tempo about her work…
Tempo: Who is Lama Younis?
Lama: I am a child’s rights activist, a criminologist, forensic psychologist and traumatologist who has made the protection and happiness of children her life’s mission.
Tempo: Why campaign for social change?
Lama: Generosity, compassion and charitable work are family values instilled in me from a young age. My academic studies and career choice extended naturally from these values. However, it was in my capacity as a professional that I was galvanized by the experiences and stories of families and children.
I’m not one to sit on the side lines and wait for change to happen. « I am the change I want to see ».
So, I recognized the need for a greater awareness of child protection issues and seized the opportunity to serve by founding TLC.
Tempo: Why the specific focus on children?
Lama: Children are the foundation of our future. They are our most vulnerable citizens and our most precious resource.
There is no doubt that ensuring our children’s physical and psychological well-being is a means of ensuring a better and brighter future for all.
Tempo: What exactly is “The Lama Campaign”?
Lama: The seed of the idea germinated from my work at the Hissah Center and from my visits to child centers in the GCC and around the world.
It became evident that the overwhelming need to change understandings of issues related to child abuse was rooted in cultural and social change. My experience taught me that the engagement and commitment of communities is required to support a sweeping campaign of awareness, education and action in the GCC and beyond. Hence, TLC , The Lama Campaign was born.
Our mission is to prevent the neglect, abuse and exploitation of Muslim children and youth through education and awareness.
Our Aims are:
- Educate people across a range of sectors to increase knowledge, develop skills and heighten awareness of issues related to child protection and safety.
- Develop state-of-the art child protection training programs for professionals working with children.
- Deliver community education through seminars and presentations.
- Advise a variety of organizations and businesses on child protection and safe working practices.
- Empower communities, organizations and businesses to act on behalf of child protection.
Tempo: How has the reaction been to The Lama Campaign?
Lama: Initially, there was some mixed reaction. The stigma surrounding child abuse prevails. However, there was also support as recognition of the need for education was evident.
Tempo: There must be a philanthropist who inspired you…?
Lama: My mother. She is truly my inspiration and my role model. Her generosity, compassion and support are what sustain me.
Tempo: What would you say to those wanting to give back?
I would say that regardless of status or wealth, as children of God we all have valuable gifts to share with our families, neighbors and community; the gift of time, of love, of assistance to the needy, of care for children and elderly are examples. We all need to be the change we wish to see. Take that first step.
Tempo: How can people support The Lama Campaign?
Lama: As a registered non-profit trust, TLC relies on the generosity of funders to continue the important work of ensuring that every child flourishes in environments that are safe from all forms of abuse.
We need your support to influence change! Child abuse is a societal issue often hidden or denied. As part of the “global village” we have an understanding of the issue but choose to believe it happens elsewhere.
However, we know that there are thousands of children and adults in our region and communities living with the long-term effects of childhood abuse. These effects have an impact on learning, mental health, crime, violence, drug abuse issues and so much more.
With your support we will be able to inspire, engage and provide the leadership needed to support corporate and social responsibility in matters of child protection so that we each play a part in enabling every child to reach their full potential in a safe, nurturing environment.