Universal Children’s Day

November 30, 2009

WCRP: Universal Children’s Day commemorates the 1954 signing of the Declaration of the rights of the Child and the 1989 signing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Both anniversaries are celebrated in various ways throughout the world.

Over the past 3 years, with the help of NGOs and CBOs, towns in the New Mon State Party (NMSP) controlled area in Three Pagodas Pass district, Burma, have organized celebrations for Universal Children’s Day on November 20. The biggest events were held in Palning-Japan IDP Village and Halockhani resettlement site.

In 2006, the Woman and Child Rights Project (WCRP) celebrated Universal Children’s Day in Palning-Japan, a town near Three Pagodas Pass (TPP). WCRP arranged for games and sports activities and provided food and school material for students from the Mon National School.

In 2007, WCRP, in coordination with All Youths Organization (AYO) -a children’s CBO in Halockhani- threw a Universal Children’s Day celebration at Halockhani. The 2 organizations planned and facilitated several recreational and educational events. During both years staff from WCRP gave trainings to parents on the CRC and simply explained parts of the document to students.
In previous years, Halockhani villagers organized their own small celebrations. At which parents cooked for students and celebrated with music and games on the football field.

Halockhani was built before the 1989 ceasefire agreement between the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), the governing military junta of Burma, for people fleeing violence and persecution. Today villagers live safely and have no desire to relocate.

For the Universal Children’s Day celebration in 2008, AYO organized 3 events at Halockhani: a morning celebration for seniors and children, an afternoon football game and race and an evening poetry competition. AYO gave prizes for winning teams in each event.

At this year’s Universal Children’s Day, Mon Child Care Association (MCCA) provided food and arranged several activities for a morning celebration at Planing Japan’s Mon National school and an afternoon celebration at Halockhani.

“We wanted to have celebrations in many areas, but we were only able to set up events in Palning-Japan and Halockhani… We did invite children from neighboring towns,” said MCCA secretary Nai Kao Chan.

An important aspect of the celebrations was a discussion, facilitated by MCCA, between Halockhani villagers and villagers from neighboring Baleh-Donephart village about the need of a local high school.

Although residents of the 300 households in Halockhani receive free health care and aid from various NGOs, education is limited to middle school and students often drop out before completion. Through Universal Children’s Day and various other trainings, involved NGOs and CBOs hope villagers will be able to protect and advocate for their children more effectively.

Trainings and workshops given by NGOs are usually residents’ only opportunity to further their educations.

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