Suffer the little children

Suffer the little children

On this special day that celebrates youth, think about those who don't enjoy the same access to happiness as you do


A boy carries a children relief kit he has received from World Vision in flood-ravaged Thailand.
A boy carries a children relief kit he has received from World Vision in flood-ravaged Thailand.
Photo: World Vision
On this day, 57 years ago, the United Nations marked the first Universal Children's Day. Decades later, the call continues to echo round the world to devote November 20 as a day for promoting the welfare of children.

While this, of course, includes you, it's more about those less lucky youngsters around the world. Here, three non-profit organisations share how they've helped children recently. Be inspired, and join in.

World Vision

The floods in Thailand have kept a third of the nation under water since July, and killed more than 500 people. The water has begun to recede, but thousands remain homeless and risk water-borne diseases.

While some children are enjoying being off school and splashing around in the water, they may suffer from the trauma of seeing their homes destroyed, says Renate Janse van Vuuren from World Vision's Thailand branch.

That's why World Vision has created child-friendly spaces (CFS) to encourage participation in games, sports and drama.

One of the beneficiaries is Bot, nine, from Chonburi province, near Bangkok. The boy enjoys every activity at CFS. "He is always the first to arrive and the last to leave," a local staff member says.

The charity also distributes emergency survival kits, dried food, books and toys. Thanks to the help, young Bot's family now get regular meals. "We have nothing to go back to, we've lost everything we had," his grandmother says.

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Protection from the cold is one area of help offered by the UN Children's Fund in Qinghai, where a fatal 7.1-magnitude earthquake in April left some 100,000 people homeless.

Children received winter clothes and educational materials from Unicef, which used HK$33.5 million of the funds raised globally for emergency aid and rebuilding. At Qingshuihe Primary School, classes resumed in makeshift tents shortly after the disaster. Two months later, students moved into prefabricated classrooms equipped with heaters.

Unicef assistant fundraising manager Genki Cheng Pui-mei urges Hong Kong students to volunteer or make a donation - she promises it will make you feel great.

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Christina Noble Children's Foundation

Operating in Mongolia and Vietnam is the Christina Noble Children's Foundation. Last month, the foundation worked with Chinese International School students who raised funds through a bake sale, and a sponsored fast and walk; the students then brought the money to the two countries.

Sent to a poor area of Mongolia, student Matthew Lau describes his trip as a "reality check", as he learned how some of the world's poorest people live.

Matthew was part of a 13-strong team of students who built two ger - portable, wood-framed tents - as part of the foundation's "Give a Ger" project. The homes were given to three orphans and a single mother and her child.

"It took three hours to carry the materials uphill and put everything together in the freezing cold," team member Rachel Cheung says.

Another team flew to Vietnam, where they took orphans and other children to a water park. They also visited visually impaired students at a boarding school.

A fifth of Vietnam's population live below the poverty line, while more than 300,000 Mongolians are affected by natural disasters every year. "Sometimes, you forget to count your blessings," says Lorraine Lau, who went to Vietnam. "I learned from these children how to live life to its fullest."

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CIS students are helping build a ger in Mongolia for CNCF's "Give a Ger" project. Photo: Vivian Li



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