Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Universal Children's Day in KL
On 20 November 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. On 20 November 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed. For this reason, Universal Children's Day is celebrated on 20 November annually.
Malaysia typically observes Universal Children's Day with school parties, concerts, award ceremonies and various initiatives dedicated to children and families. The meaning of Universal Children's Day, however, goes beyond mere treats and parties. Universal Children's Day was instituted by world leaders to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children, and to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children.
I was fortunate enough to be involved in organising and executing a Universal Children's Day event at an aid agency in Kuala Lumpur for vulnerable children from marginalised communities. (Note: I cannot disclose locations or names for reasons of confidentiality).
Universal Children's Day celebrates the resilience of children-at-risk, who can still smile and play despite the trauma and adversity they have been through. These boys have just won a 'Duck Walk Race'.
This means WAR! In spite of the dangers and harm faced by children caught up in armed conflict, many would not pass up an opportunity for a good old-fashioned water bomb war, especially against adults! These kids are pretty sharp throwers!
Older children participating in an art competition.
The younger children have been given free rein over these plywood panels.
Volunteers touching up a mural where the children left off after being distracted by sweets and games.
A palpable hit! A little girl has a go at hitting the pinata, as her friends cheer her on.
Paint me a story: Children putting their thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams on paper.
Freedom of Religion: A poignant tale is told in this illustration. The youngster had painted houses of worship, which are important to him, with guns and gunmen pointing at them. All children should have the right to profess, observe and practice their religion without fear of reprisal.
Freedom to Dream: A little girl illustrates her ambition of becoming a doctor. All children should have access to education and should be in a position to earn a livelihood when they attain adulthood.
Freedom of Recreation: A young boy draws what matters most to him -- playing in a rock band! Children should have the right to pursue their interests and develop their talents.
In an ideal world, laws and society, and not aid agencies, should protect children. Let us all work together to address the specific needs of children at risk, and institute laws and enforcement systems to protect them.