The Baton Book, an initiative promoting the 33Fifty Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme, is currently making its way across Africa as part of the Queen's Baton Relay; a tremendous 190,000km journey across the 70 countries and territories taking part in this year's Commonwealth Games.
The Baton Book, specially produced by De La Rue, is an opportunity for one young person from each country or territory the baton visits to send a message to Glasgow 2014, in particular to the participants of the 33Fifty The Commonwealth Youth Leadership Programme, that will take place from 17 - 20th, prior to this summer's Commonwealth Games.
33fifty, so named because 33% of the world’s population lives in the Commonwealth and 50% of those are under 25, is a leadership programme for Commonwealth citizens aged between 18 and 25 run by the Royal Commonwealth Society and Common Purpose. It aims to develop young leaders who bring people together, reconcile difference and lead change.
Young people from across the Commonwealth are currently being invited to apply for the programme and it is hoped that the Baton Book, as it continues on its journey, will inspire applications from every corner of the Commonwealth.
Read more about some of our Baton Book signatories below.
On 12th January, 19-year-old Ezra Mururu added his message to the Baton Book. Attending a reception held at the British High Commissioner’s residence in Nairobi, Ezra wrote: "On behalf of the young people of Kenya I am asking other young leaders of the Commonwealth to take responsibility with me on the front line making a difference for future generations."
Ezra’s story is a remarkable one. Having come from Kandara Children’s Home in a small rural village outside of Nairobi, he seized the opportunities provided by Vision Africa, a UK based children's charity which has supported vulnerable and disadvantaged children throughout Kenya for over ten years. Ezra completed his high school education and is now pursuing a BSc in Meteorology at the University of Nairobi. Ezra was chosen to sign the book because of his strong ambition and determination to overcome obstacles, making him an inspiration for other disadvantaged young people.
In October 2013, Sareka Jahan, a delegate for Bangladesh at Global Climate Conferences under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), added her message to the 33Fifty Baton Book. At an event in Dhaka, Sareka wrote: “the biggest challenge for today’s youth is to ensure that tomorrow’s youth have a louder voice, and that female voices are as strong as the male voices.”
Sareka Jahan, a graduate of International Relations from the University of Dhaka, was chosen to sign the book because of her work with vulnerable communities, especially with women and people with disabilities, in disaster risk zones in Bangladesh. She has led unique projects which have mainstreamed gender issues in areas prone to natural disasters and has acted as a Country Facilitator for Bangladesh under the United Nations Centre for Regional Development. Of particular note has been her work to secure climate change and environmental debates in the Secondary Schools’ curriculum in Bangladesh.
In November 2013, 19 year old Katherine McIndoe from Wellington, New Zealand, added her message to the Baton Book.
Attending a formal reception for the Baton in the Grand Hall at Parliament House, Katherine wrote: “I urge the Commonwealth to take bold action to end gender inequality around the globe. Women and girls everywhere have the right to live free of violence and discrimination, and must have equal opportunities for education and health care. Please use the strength and diversity of the Commonwealth so that all women can live with confidence, joy, and hope”.
Katherine, a student at Victoria University, was chosen to sign the book in recognition of her winning the top prize in this year’s Commonwealth Essay Competition – an international writing competition that this year received over 11,000 entries. Her winning essay, entitled “To boldly go”: a letter to the lost girls, was a powerful and eloquent exposition on gender discrimination across the globe. Katherine’s message to the participants of 33Fifty echoes the poignant theme of this essay.
For information on all the Baton Book signatories, see our press releases.