International Humanitarian Charity Penny Appeal identified the need to bring on board someone with a new perspective. Adult CEO, Aamer Naeem explained how a charity commission report found that 92% of trustees were aged between 55-64. Once reviewing the statistics, Aamer made the decision to appoint 11 year-old Shakira Rahman as Mini CEO of Penny Appeal to bring forth this new perspective. We had the opportunity to catch up with Shakira, to find out how life as a Mini CEO has been treating her.
How would you describe being a mini CEO at the age of 11?
It’s a great honour to be able to speak on behalf of children and get this opportunity. Children’s voices are just as important as anyone else….Its a big responsibility and I hope I will able to do it justice as I want to bring issues that are affecting children and young people to the forefront.
We saw that you went to an orphan complex in Gambia, how was this experience?
This experience was a real eye opener for me…in the UK we only see real poverty on the TV but having gone to Gambia it really hit home that so many children are living under the poverty line…We take things for granted in the UK, these children have lost both their parents in most cases, having said that the work Penny Appeal are doing for these orphaned children is amazing.The orphan complex I visited is wonderful…the children have beautiful houses to live in, the complex houses 100 orphans (10 children to a house and they have a foster mum to look after them) They also attend Mrs Chow School of Excellence which is attached to the orphan complex. I went to school with the kids my age there and it was so cool…the girls are just like me they like to sing, dance and braid hair so we all bonded really easily. If it wasn’t for the work Penny Appeal are doing I can’t imagine what would happen to these children…its so important to keep helping so that they get a fair chance in life.
As a young person, you see things differently. What would you say has been your most eye opening experience?
Well for sure the Gambia Experience was the most eye opening experience. But as I take this role up I have started to realise that even in the UK we have so many children living in Poverty. Infact 4.1 Million children (according to Joseph Rountree Foundation) are living in poverty, this number shocked me. I know children just from school that struggle but its a far bigger problem than I could have ever imagined. I am also starting to realise there are issues such as race, religion, body image and abuse of all sorts that are far wider spread and affect children more than we know and I want to make it my mission to speak out and tackle these issues if I can. Penny Appeal have given me a voice for the children and all I can ask is that people listen and are educated and I really hope that we can start to take children more seriously as we are the future.