By Andria Kades
WHEN A young person decides he wants to change the world, most adults give a weary sigh and perhaps a little eye roll. Any enthusiasm they once had has long been morphed by reality.
So 17-year-old high school student Paulo Nizam knows he has his work cut out. He’s looking to empower young people on the island creating a ‘Cyprus Youth Movement’ to make people more politically active and provide a platform to discuss issues and actually do something about them.
For Nizam, the cliché phrase – being the change you want to see in the world – is both fresh and real.
“My vision is that we’ll discuss things not like everyone else with no end result. We can push for change rather than procrastinate,” he says.
His grandiose plans are based on human rights and addressing social problems from a very diverse and multicultural aspect including giving immigrant women in Cyprus a proper minimum wage and rights.
“They don’t have a lot of security and they’re dependent on their employer,” he says.
Half English and half Lebanese himself, he has been exposed to different cultures, religions and people growing up in Limassol and he stresses the word ‘multicultural’ when he describes how his movement will operate.
“The world is evolving and diversifying,” he says and Cyprus needs to adapt and cater to the needs of the young.
Although at present, this is a loose discussion amongst a few of his friends – where it comes as no surprise that most of them are older – he acknowledges that “it’s a big goal but I want to see where it takes me.”
While most people talk about world changing plans, he wants to maintain a realistic stance and take it step by step starting closer to home and at local authorities.
Ending mandatory army conscription is one such idea as it is “a waste of time” he says as there are UN and British forces on the island. Youths that spend the most of their 26 months smoking shesha and playing cards probably wouldn’t disagree.
His plans of an ideal world – “Don’t roll your eyes,” he tells me “ – include wanting “to get rid of the idea of materialism and change the ideology behind it”.
“People are so fixated on how they look, how they dress, what car they drive in. It would be so much better to focus on being a better person.”
Completely unphased by some of the ulterior motives people have when showing interest in his movement such as money or something to look good on a CV, Nizam says he is too focused on his dreams of making the world a better place, following his passions and embarking on an “adventure to spark change in the world and see where it will take me and the rest of the youth in Cyprus.”
You can contact Nizam at [email protected]