29 October 2015: A University of Canberra student and recent graduate have been selected to be UNICEF Australia's 2015/2016 Young Ambassadors, a voluntary role that gives young people from across Australia a platform to speak up for children's rights.
Monga Mukasa and Khin Nyo Nyo San will get the chance to work with UNICEF Australia and engage with children and young people about child rights issues, listening to their views and interests and represent them as youth spokespeople.
Mr Mukasa who is in the first year of his Bachelor of Politics and International Relations at the University said he was over the moon when he found out he had chosen to be a Young Ambassador.
"I come from a war-torn country where countless children are forced to become child soldiers and where sexual violence is used as a weapon," Mr Mukasa said.
"But now, having the opportunity to live in a country where there is education and protection and where children can be children, I hope I can share my stories with as many young Australians as possible and empower them to understand and value the importance of education."
Mr Mukasa, 19, was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but he and his family were forced to escape to a refugee camp because of the escalating violence of the Congolese war. He said his experience in the refugee camp was what prompted him to apply for the program.
"When I was in the refugee camp I saw the work that UNICEF does. The support they gave me as a young person in the camp, by suppling me with books, textbooks and pens, encouraged me to continue my education," Mukasa said.
"So having experienced all the great work they have done throughout my life, which has led me here, with the opportunity to give back, I thought "why not get involved?" and maybe change lives or encourage other young people to get involved."
Mr Mukasa said he choose to study at the University because he enjoyed getting to experience the study environment first-hand after visiting Open Day last year.
"When I first came here for Open Day, I said to myself, "this is the place for me, this is the University I want to be part of". I really liked the atmosphere and the vibe of the campus," he said.
The Shepparton local said he is enjoying his politics course so far and looks forward to working with different people from a range of communities.
"I believe this degree will allow me to professionally work with different groups by bringing peace, unity and change in the world," he said.
Ms Nyo Nyo San who graduated with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing Communications/Law earlier this month, said she was looking forward to getting to talk with children.
"I'm blessed to have been educated in Australia and I can't wait start to talking to the children in my local community and hearing what they have to say. And ultimately getting to be part of a movement that seeks to improve the lives of children both nationally and internationally," Ms Nyo Nyo San said.
Ms Nyo Nyo San's parents fled from the political crisis in Myanmar and took refuge in Thailand, where she was born. They then moved to Canberra when she was four years old.
The 23-year-old, who currently works as an early childhood educator, said she applied for the program because she wanted to work with an international humanitarian organisation that specialised in children's matters.
"The program entails many skills and knowledge relating to my study at University like one of the units I did, justice policy and community engagement, for example. I hope to strengthen my skills and knowledge in advocacy, including communicating effectively to the public and to the government," she said.
Ms Nyo Nyo San said she enjoyed her time at the University because it gave her the chance to think both creatively and strategically in both advertising and legal fields during her studies.
During their 12-month appointment, Mr Mukasa and Ms Nyo Nyo San will work together with seven other ambassadors to consult with young people around the country and hear their views on what affects them.
The young ambassadors will also have the opportunity to share their findings on key issues with Parliamentarians, in order to address the rights of children both in Australia and around the world.
To find out more about UNICEF Australia and the Young Ambassador program visit their website.