Rhee, 19, from Southern Leyte Philippines attended the conference on Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland last June 2009 giving life to the voice of his fellow Filipino children as active agents in community development.
Together with Senator Loren Legarda, Rhee delivered the speech below...
"I come to Geneva from the Philippines. This is my first time to Europe. I have come to tell you that my education about DRR was important. I think it may have saved my life. Education about risk reduction changed my life. My classmates and I learnt about risks and hazards in school. When we did a detailed study about the threats facing our community we discovered that our school was in danger of being buried by a landslide if heavy rains caused the mountain to slip. We learnt that climate changing is making the rain heavy and less reliable.
With my sister and other students we campaigned in our community to have our school relocated to a safer place. We wrote letters to the state governor. Many adults did not want the school to be moved. But we succeeded in convincing these decision makers. After one year in a temporary school, attending classes in temporary tents, our new school opened in July 2007.
We can now continue our education and we do no longer fear our school may be buried under a landslide. I am proud that it was the children who had learnt about DRR who made us safe. And we have convinced our community and our government that it is important to teach children, so children can be involved in preventing disasters. We learnt our lessons and we acted on them.
Geneva is like a school for governments. I hope you remember your lessons when you go home. Remember that children like me are the future.
Education is a good investment for preventing disasters. I will continue to use my lessons to try to prevent all sorts of disasters. Please do the same. We have the right to be safe. And you adults must do all you can to ensure we are safe from disasters. You must do all you can to help us protect our future.
I may not be here at the next global platform. But I hope that children can be involved in checking whether the world's governments are doing what they promised in the Hyogo framework.
Investing in children today ensures a safer tomorrow. Thank you."
Prepared by: Patricia Molina (LNU-ABCom Intern)
Photos by: Baltz Tribunalo Jr.