Sara-France Vaval has been a member of the UNA-USA Brooklyn Chapter for just one year, and is already one of our most involved members. Sara signed up at our last members meeting to take part of the YP and the Communications committee, where she contributes actively, while moving forward with her Business Administration degree at Nyack College and working as an assistant within their offices.
In June 2019, with support from UNA-USA Southern Division, Sara was sponsored to attend the 2019 Global Leadership Summit, in Washington DC, jointly with YP Communications committee member Melissa Toussaint.
Board Member Michelle Horne-Findley and YP Chair Caroline Rakus-Wojciechowski completed this great UNA-USA Brooklyn chapter delegation.
This is an unedited version of the account written by Sara-France Vaval of this great event.
The UN, a non governmental organization has left its footprint in different places around the world. To some people, it symbolizes hope and a better future, but how can an entity have so much impact globally?
They fight for peace and equality for mankind. Most importantly, their agendas to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 is crucial to societies. Ever since 2015, the General Assembly, which has adopted SDGs, proclaimed to enforce peace, to protect our planet, and to ensure that human dignity and human rights are not violated. Due to my ethnic background and previous experiences, I have always appreciated the intervention provided by the UN. As a result, I, as a young-adult, would like to partake in any opportunities in extending the works of the UN to others so they can be fortunate recipients of the United Nations’ doing.
As a child, due to the vocation of my parents, I was exposed to the reality of pain that many faced. Their passion and drive to serve the most vulnerable became instinct and the norm to me. At the age of twelve, I understood what it felt like being a survivor of an earthquake in which chaos and despair consumed the faith of many. That has led me on a quest to contribute to changing the paradigm of others’ suffering.
This inquisition has led me to the United Nations. Because of the work that they do, and their beliefs to protect the most vulnerable, I felt compelled to act out my purpose in accordance to the UN’s. Since then, I have been yearning to have the impact of an ambassador and a humanitarian in my surroundings and beyond borders. However, the journey has been quite rocky and uncomfortable. Starting about a year ago, I signed up with The Young Professionals’ committee with the objective of being an active supporter of the UN. With patience, I got the opportunity to volunteer as a reporter for the UNA-USA Brooklyn Chapter at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit.
This particular event, the Global Leadership Summit, which took place in Washington D.C, was phenomenal. All 50 states were represented for the first time. Many different chapters came alongside UNA-USA to support the beliefs of the United Nations. Just as Chris Whatley stated, “ Whether is a belief in human universal human rights norms, whether it's the experience of your own family. Maybe you are a first generation immigrant. It’s that story, it’s that personal story that carried you into this room today. In that story lies the only political capital that we have to make the case of U.S. leadership in the UN.” That is an affirmative that we came as one, from different backgrounds, ethnicities and culture to defend human rights, and the dignity of the human race; which is in conformity with the UN’s belief.
Most people in that room gathered to contribute into the alleviation of human misery. Some may interject that it is impossible that world leaders can resolve global poverty in its entirety, but it’s a matter of making a difference in someone's life instead of being passive and stagnant. Fourteen year old activist Alexandria Villaseñor has been the perfect demonstrator of someone who uses her voice to make a difference. Whether big or small, we all can be an agent of change in society. When we do not take actions, the one thing that may be a detriment to one can turn out to be noxious to the whole world. She has been leading movement outside of the UN headquarters in New York to demand leaders to take action for climate change. None of us are exempt from it. Therefore, when it comes to humanitarian and refugee crisis, human tracking, immigration issue, climate change and all the world challenges that the UN tackles, we are all included. That is where our humanity comes into play, we must defend, protect, advocate, and fight for those who are in need.
This summit has exposed so many obstacles that our world faces; these problems captivated the attention of many. Such as college students, high schoolers, and even a fourteen year old, Alexandria Villaseñor. The UN has always made its resources available to those in need. Alas, the UN is now facing obstacles that do not only impact its NGOs but also the whole world; precisely the most vulnerable and most unprotected of our planet. Marco Sanchez declared, “The UN is working to help those who are most vulnerable around the globe. However, the US decision to withdraw from the UN human rights council almost one year ago, is not only a disappointing political statement, but a decision that undermines our commitment to universal human dignity and makes it difficult for us to push back against this violation of basic human rights. It is no doubt that universal human rights reflect American freedoms. However, forfeiting the US seat on the UN Human Right Council only serves to empower actors that do not share our country’s values and damages our country's reputation on the world stage. The UN is not a perfect institution, no institution is, but it is impossible for change to progress and reform to remain if the United States is absent from that negotiating table.” It’s clear that when human rights are threatened, everyone’s concerned. When one’s dignity is disregarded, we are all indirectly attacked because we are one race. Thus, ignoring human rights and people’s dignity is equivalent to the nullity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I witnessed leaders, high schoolers, professionals, and college students coming together to support the cause of the United Nations. Whether to enforce peace keeping, to strengthen policies integrating refugees, reminding them that all men and women are born with rights and dignity . Most importantly, demanding the US to pay its dues and to fully support the budget of the United Nations as it cuts at 24%. Five hundred (500) advocates came together to demand full funding on behalf of the United Nations. Honorary National Council Chair, Teta Banks, “ We will speak truth to power in the halls of congress with our message of the U.S. for the United Nations.” The United Nations has never been silent when the whole world is in pain. It has never been silent when the worst crisis and the unthinkable chaos emerges. The truth is that the United Nations has been a moral compass regarding human rights and human dignity for ages and generations. Thus, on June 11th, 2019, 500 advocates, representing all 50 states walked the hallways of Capitol Hill and held 322 Congressional meetings to advocate on behalf of the United Nations.
As Rachel Bowman stated, “ All of you today are change makers, fighters and passionate advocates who are ready to change the world, but we can’t do it alone. We must let our leaders know that we stand with the UN. Moreover, we must continue to stand for those who are more vulnerable so that everyone can have access to safe, healthy and prosperous future. The world needs the UN, The UN needs you.”
We all can contribute to better the world. As this time period is critical for the UN, so it is for those in need. Since the United Nations’ foundation, places that encounter hunger, poverty and diseases have found assistance and aid from the organization. The UN is indispensable in the lives of the most forgotten and neglected on our planet. The United Nations is a hope and a future for those who cannot sustain themselves. Thus, cutting back our budget, will not only impact its NGOs but also have a pessimistic and crucial consequence globally.