Ban Ki-moon meets Mozambican girl in UN headquarters as his special guest

NEW YORK (CIHAN)- United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon introduced his special guest, Raquelina Langa, a 10th grade student from Mozambique, at the ‘Mental Health Matters’ event taking place this week on International Youth Day at UN headquarters.

“Can a girl like me become a Secretary-General of the United Nations?,” Ban quoted her as saying when they first met during his visit to Mozambique last year to highlight the role of education.

During the questions and answers session that followed the presentation, a 10th grade student, Raquelina Langa, asked the Secretary-General if she as a girl could become Secretary-General and, if so, what she needed to do to achieve this goal. The Secretary-General was so impressed by Raquelina that he decided to invite her to come to New York as his Special Guest.

Ban encouraged her to achieve her “ambitions and dreams,” especially the desire to become Secretary-General.

During an interview at headquarters, Langa wondered why no woman has ever led the organization in its nearly seven-decade history.

“I was very curious and I wanted to know why, among the pictures of the Secretary-Generals at the corridor, there was no woman. This was my doubt.”

Asked what issues she would tackle if she were Secretary-General, Langa noted there were many problems in the world, like disease, mental health and war and conflict.

She also mentioned the security challenges facing countries that have become independent like Mozambique and the risks of them going back to war. She pointed out the need to have, “more control of war and diseases.”

At the youth event on mental health, Langa was inspired by how participants shared their personal stories.

“I myself learned that one day I can have the courage to share in my country, with others, issues related to the importance of mental health and the impact it has,” she said.

The UN Chief noted that 20 percent of the youth worldwide experience a mental health condition, according to a recent UN report. He underscored the importance of lifting the veil that keeps young people with mental conditions locked in a chamber of “isolation” and “silence.”

“By providing some atmosphere in the school, in the family or in the society, and in the neighborhood, these young people should be cultivated and raised having sound mental health. One out of five in the world has one kind of a mental health issue,” Ban said.

He noted that the lack of access to mental health services, and the stigma and shame they often face, people with mental health conditions are “more vulnerable” to poverty, violence and social exclusion. He pointed out the negative impact it has on society as a whole.

Sending out a message to youth, Ban highlighted the importance of broadening horizons beyond countries and regions, and becoming a “global citizen.”

“Instead of thinking about Mozambique, instead of thinking about only Africa think about Asia, Europe, and the Middle East and Latin America, and try to become a global citizen. That is what I am asking all the young people.”

“Forget about your country, your home, and try to think about how we can live together, where everybody can live without any fear, any poverty, any sickness. And that is the world which we are working for,” Ban said.