The objective of Model United Nations conferences—started on the basis of a solid concept—is somehow losing its sheen. As someone who was part of the ‘circle’ until quite recently, I remember older delegates talking about the slow degeneration in the quality of the conferences. Many of the recent conferences saw delegates coming in without adequate research, ultimately resulting in shallow debates. However, a group of girls from LSR, in collaboration with CRY, held a unique conference. Unlike other MUNs, this conference wasn’t an elite affair.

Sangeeta, a 12-year-old, was the delegate of Nigeria. This is what she had said, “Would you believe me if I told you there are so many cases of child marriage and selling of children even in Nigeria. I didn’t believe it at first, but I was surprised when I read the numbers. And they sell girls, too. It is a lot like what happens in India. I’ve been seeing young didis getting married in my ‘basti’ for years. I didn’t know it was a bad thing when I was a child. Aarti didi, who was as young as 13, got married when her mother was unwell, and everyone thought she would pass away. I remember how excited I was at her wedding; I don’t know if Aarti didi would be just as excited, now that I think of it.”

The team at LSR decided to take the concept of MUNs to 25 children from CRY support projects across Delhi. The children researched and learned about countries assigned to them, but the debate that ensued was truly astonishing. From racism to gender bias, differently abled children to lack of funding and poor infrastructure, policies to protect children to child marriage, the young delegates at the conference debated all the subjects imaginable under the sun, with an enthusiasm triggered by their own personal experiences. It was refreshing to hear what this group of young delegates had to say.

By giving these kids a platform to learn about the world, about issues that plague systems and people across the globe, and giving them a chance to have a discussion from a broader perspective, CRY’s LSR team has set an example that one can only hope will be followed by others who want to recapture the very essence of MUN-like discussions.

The world mourned with Florida after the recent shooting at a school. Not only did 17-year-old Akash learn about the massacre when he was made delegate of USA, he also had this to say, “I don’t entirely blame the boy. He was young and knew little of the consequences of his action. I blame the schools. I blame the teachers and the ones who make the laws. How did he acquire a gun so easily? Why aren’t stringent measures of checking made mandatory in schools? It was surprising how, just like in my school here, the US children too can sneak cigarettes, and other drugs into their schools.”

Somewhere between the hype around formal wear and pseudo-intellectual conversations, the larger aim of bringing young minds together to have a civilized conversation about the realities of this world is lost. But listening to the children at CRY’s MUN organized by a dedicated and hardworking LSR team makes one realize the good that can be achieved when a few innovative minds put in a few hours and the effort required to make something as simple a debate accessible to those who otherwise would be deprived of such opportunities. More power to them.

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