The global launch of UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development's (MGIEP) campaign witnessed mass participation from youth in four countries - South Africa, India, Pakistan and Mexico, where UNESCO MGIEP's International Youth Campaign on Kindness for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was simultaneously launched via a live link connecting the four nations.
In the true spirit of the campaign, the launch witnessed massive acts of kindness committed by youth for one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In India, South Africa, Pakistan, and Mexico, youth participated in activities ranging from blood donation camps, food distribution drives and mass cleanups and celebrated the power of acts of kindness.
In India, close to 242 units of blood were collected at the drive organised by UNESCO MGIEP's campaign launch partner, the Indian Red Cross Society in New Delhi. At the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, thousands of young school students were given a lesson in the Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG4 relating to education for peace and sustainable development. The Robin Hood Army demonstrated its commitment towards the campaign and kindness by organising multiple food drives across 34 India cities and two in Pakistan serving a total of 21 thousand (Approx.) meals.
The official Delhi launch event witnessed youth and policymakers engage in a lively discussion on Education for Kindness in an age of Societal and Planetary Change. The official launch was initiated by Mr. Leon Prop, the Head of the International Federation of the Red Cross in New Delhi who spoke of the birth of the Red Cross and its phenomenal contribution to society in times of need as the perfect example of the power of acts of Kindness.
"If you want to be a leader, be a bridge," he said, urging the young audience to come out of their comfort zones and actually act on their impulse to be kind.
This sentiment was echoed in the address by youth ambassador Dr. Neharika Yadav, who is India's first woman super biker and an advocate for gender equality (SDG 5). Citing her own story of breaking boundaries and following her passion, she encourages the youth to take out even one second during the day to perform an act of kindness however simple it may be.
"Kindness is an essential necessary condition if we are to build peaceful and sustainable societies; solving our global challenges must come from our emotional brain and not just our intellect," said Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP.
In Cape Town, the launch took place at the iconic City Hall where Nelson Mandela made his first public speech after being freed in 1990. The event was attended by 700 plus youth; the launch was initiated by Ms. Ruchira Kamboj, High Commissioner for India to South Africa and the Director of African Monitor, Ms. Namhla Mniki-Mangaliso as well as the winner of the South African Idol. In Pakistan, the launch took place as part of the YESPeace Pakistan Festival in Islamabad.
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