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Third Annual Small Voices, Big Dreams Survey: A Preview

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When the ChildFund Alliance launched its first Small Voices, Big Dreams survey in 2010, the goal was straightforward: to hear directly from children in the developing world about their experiences.

That year, we sat down with about 3,000 10- to 12-year-olds across 30 developing countries and asked them six questions, such as what they would do if they were leader of their country, how much of their day was spent in work or play, what they fear and more. We rolled out the results in time to honor Universal Children's Day, Nov. 20, which seemed fitting: That date also marks the anniversaries of the U.N.'s Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) and its Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

In 2011, much stayed the same, but some things changed: This time, we spoke with 5,100 children in 44 countries, including eight developed countries, and we tweaked some of the questions. The results showed some compelling echoes and contrasts, all informative. As ChildFund Alliance's Secretary General Jim Emerson quoted Bishop Desmond Tutu in the 2011 report, “Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things.”

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This year, we went to 47 countries from across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe (11 of them developed), more than doubling the number of children we reached in the original Small Voices, Big Dreams. Again, we changed out some of the questions, and the children responded with more echoes and surprises.

And that's all the detail we can give until the 2012 launch on Nov. 20, once again honoring Universal Children's Day.

But we can say that there's one thing that hits home more and more clearly with each edition of Small Voices, Big Dreams: Children want a better world and have clear vision about what that means. What's more, they want to participate in making it that way.

Children truly are a gift.

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