Jazmine Heka - Hero of the Week | The Jackal

15 Jan 2012

Jazmine Heka - Hero of the Week

Increased drowning, car accident deaths, new oil and debris washing up all along the East Coast, ships running aground all around the world, a devastating hot air ballooning accident, most of Europe being downgraded, a potential US Iran war developing, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and climate change making summer non-existent... with so much bad news these days, it's nice to read something positive for a change.

On Tuesday, The Whangarei Leader reported:

A 16-year-old is taking action against child poverty and hopes others will join her to create change.
While most people her age are relaxing at the beach, Jazmine Heka from Whangarei Girls' High School has created her own cause, Children Against Poverty.
She has started petitions calling for free healthy school lunches, free healthcare for all children including prescription costs and warrants of fitness on all rental houses.
Jazmine has also written a children's charter based on the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.
She was inspired to take action after watching Inside Child Poverty, a documentary by Bryan Bruce.

The documentary has been highly controversial, not because it was inaccurate, but because it told the truth. Unfortunately some people would prefer that the truth about child poverty in New Zealand continued to be ignored, with certain right winger's even attacking the producer for shining a light on the problem.

New Zealand produces far more food than it requires and is blessed with an abundance of resources, making the resistance to positive change in respect to child poverty truly astounding. The main obstacle to reducing the highly damaging and costly social failing of child impoverishment is political, which is exactly where Jazmine plans to focus here attention:

She wants to see legislation changes and hopes to meet politicians after the summer holidays.
Ngaire Rae from Whangarei Child Poverty Action Group says it's inspiring to have someone as young as Jazmine taking action.
"It gives adults like us hope that this is an issue young people will pick up. It's inspirational for a lot of us who have been working on these issues for a long time."

It certainly is inspirational that some young people care about the estimated 220,000 children currently living in poverty. Really, it's an issue they all should be concerned with, being that the younger generations are the ones most affected from the older generations failure to fix things.

Jazmine shows a good understanding of the problem, and is going about trying to initiate change in the right way. Yesterday, The Northern Advocate reported:

Jazmine, who is eyeing up a career in law, planned to present her petition to Parliament at the end of the summer.
Her demands would include free health care for all children, free and healthy school lunches, Working for Families tax credits for beneficiary-reliant families, and establishment of a "warrant of fitness" law inspired by Scottish welfare standards to ensure all New Zealand homes were safe living environments.
She said she hoped to mobilise compassion for the plight of sick Kiwi children.
Rae said Jazmine's petition illustrated "minimum standards" that she felt would receive a positive reception. "I think it would be really difficult for the Government to ignore this."

Unfortunately the government has continued to ignore the issue for a long time now... even when legal action was undertaken against them, they fail to implement policy that would help the many thousands of New Zealand children living in poverty.

A young person working for positive change is something we should cherish. Well done Jazmine Heka, you're this weeks Hero award recipient.

Please like the Children Against Poverty facebook page and sign the petition (PDF). Email childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz for more information.