Our Hi-Tech Hero, Ingrid Soto from Brazil, shared some thoughts with us about the power of music, the potential of young people, and how to change the world. Thanks, Ingrid!
You hold campaigns to donate books and toys to refugee children arriving in Brazil. Why did you choose to focus your work on this group? How many children have you reached, and how much have you donated since you started?
Well, when I was a little girl I saw children suffering on TV in wars and having to leave their countries to ensure their right to life, peace and freedom. I felt I could not continue sitting there watching all those atrocities happen. Because they were children like me and I thought that even while I was in my house, the houses of children and innocent families are being bombed. I was deeply moved by their situation, and I wanted to help them in some way. For 4 years I have run toy and books collection campaigns. In the first year of the campaign, I had the support of the UN, but it was very hard to collect toys because people did not understand what it was like to “be in a refugee situation,” so I needed donations of enterprises! The campaign began to grow in an incredible way as society began to have access to more information about the largest humanitarian tragedy that we are living in. Now, young people and schools are collaborating a lot more. Last year, I raised more than 10,000 toys, so I needed a truck to transport the donations and divide it between two institutions that host families and refugee children. I do not know how many refugee children I have reached with the campaign, because there are many children arriving in Brazil. The only thing I know is that this campaign means that refugee children feel more welcomed and loved. Each look of joy is as though you are saving the world, and rescuing hope.
You’re a very active member in the RErights community – we’ve loved hearing what you think about rights and digital technology. How is your work related to RErights?
My work is very related to RErights because by using technology, I am fighting for human rights and the rights of children. Also with music, I’m taking the message that we (the youth) can change the world, because we are the future of the nation and the adults need to hear us to support positive change in the world.
Which rights does your work promote for young people? Do you think that the digital era has impacted on your rights in any way?
I’m always promoting the rights of liberty of expression, encouraging the empowerment of girls, the right to life and the protection of children at risk. Technology helps directly in my right to: liberty of expression, access to information and the right to be heard.
You also call yourself a pacifist singer! What does this mean to you? How do you think music can change the world?
I love be a pacifist singer. For me to be pacifist means that I can help influence and empower the youth to be the positive change that we want for the world, and I always need to be tuned to the real world and real facts. I love to write what I dream and what I wish for our world, especially knowing that I can inspire other young people. I think that when we dream of other people they start to dream of you and I found in music a way to communicate. Music unites people in a fantastic way that brings hope and love to our humanity without distinction of religion, race, color and social class.
I’m taking the message that we (the youth) can change the world, because we are the future of the nation and the adults need to hear us to support positive change in the world.
Your work is based mostly on the internet. Can you explain how technology has enabled you to do your work? What are the advantages of the technology we have available today?
With the internet I can communicate, share my music and share with people my campaigns of donation of toys and books. The advantages of utilizing technology include being able to reach people from around the world, awaken solidarity and mobilize people to change the world.
You’ve accomplished a lot at 14 years old! Why do you think it’s important for young people to have their voices heard? In what ways could young people be more involved in decision-making?
I think I have a lot to do yet. We the youth of the new generation have to have our voices heard, because we want not only a future but a better present, and yes we can help to change the world. Adults should pay more attention to our ideals, and see that we can make decisions, participate in debates about our rights, create art, and access quality education. All these ways help youth to develop and together find the way to development.
You wrote your first email to the United Nations at 10 years old! That’s impressive. What advice do you have for other young people wanting to use technology to make change in their community?
At ten years old while surfing on the UN website, I realized that I could help adults in my way. We the youth, we have a big potential, and with the internet it has becme easier, with one click we can know everything around us, and we have in our hands a great communication tool. Believe in your dreams and in your potential! With your potential, use the Internet in a positive way, promote better change in the world and reach more people for the good. Yes you can improve everything! Remember that everything starts very small, with much effort, planning and dedication, you will see the transformation happen in your family, in your community, in your city, step-by-step and together we are transforming the world.
Technology has developed so much in recent years. So in just a few more years, it could almost be unrecognisable! Given that your work is technology based, where would you like to see your work go?
I want to continue singing and doing campaigns for refugee children and protect children in high risk situations, and reach more people in the world for good through music. But we cannot forget that in real life, everything only becomes possible if we put it into practice in our daily life. Because of this, I like to give lectures and shows so that I can see the people, the brightness from the eyes and see the change that happens in reality. I dream to be an ambassador of UNICEF to encourage people to help. Also I really want to participate in UN debates. Since I was little, I wished to mobilize various singers from different continents to sing together in support of the protection of refugee children and I am trying to mobilize artists to this action. And so, I keep singing instead of silencing our dreams.