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How I Celebrated Universal Children’s Day

How I Celebrated Universal Children's DayIt goes by many different names. The International Day of the Child. The Universal Children’s Day. The National Child Day in individual countries.

However, it doesn’t matter what it’s called. November 20 is a special day for children all over the world.

When it all started

It was almost 55 years ago when the General Assembly of the United Nations recommended that the special day be observed to celebrate “worldwide fraternity and understanding between children.” The Assembly decided on November 20 as the special day which also marks the day when the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted in 1959 and Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. Today, all over the world, countries, organizations and schools celebrated this very special day.

How I celebrated the Universal Child’s Day

I live in Switzerland, one of the smallest but most diverse countries in Europe. When one of my sons’ teachers asked for extra help for this day, I immediately volunteered despite my full schedule. Each class at the school had chosen a country to celebrate its culture and tradition. One of my sons’ class had chosen England; the other Pakistan. The schoolchildren from the neighboring town were invited over so they can celebrate together. My task was to show the children how to prepare cucumber sandwiches and tea for a typical English repast – English tea. I am not English, but I am familiar with the culture and I speak the language.

The classrooms were so wonderfully decorated according to the theme country and many parents lent a hand. A Daddy from Togo played African beats on drums. A Mommy from Thailand made lots of spring rolls while a Swiss Mommy married to a Pakistani baked patties from her husband’s region.

All 500 plus of the school kids then gathered outside, joined hands, and formed a big circle around the school house. Afterwards, Universal Child Day balloons were released.

It was a long morning for the kids. It was great chance for us moms to participate in such an event. My sons were so proud to tell their classmates “That’s my Mom. She helped us make the cucumber sandwiches.”

What the Universal Children’s Day means

As the name indicates, today was a day dedicated to each and every child in the world. However, it doesn’t stop there. It is also the chance to draw attention to the plight of children in low income regions. Yes, somewhere in the world, children still suffer from:

  • Poverty. According to a study, 1 in 3 children in developing countries has no access to sanitation facilities. 1 in5 has not access to clean water.
  • Child labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 218 million children are being used as labourers, with the highest numbers in the Asian-Pacific region.
  • Child abuse. 80 to 98% of children suffer from physical punishment at home. More than 50,000 die as a result of homicide.
  • Diseases. Millions of children die from malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases which are easily preventable and curable in developed countries.
  • Lack of education. 13% of children aged 7 to 28 years in developing countries (approx. 140 million children) have never attended school, most of them girls.
  • Discrimination and racism.

Many of us may not realize that these things are not only happening in some remote country. It may be happening in our own neighborhood. Here in Switzerland, the main problems children have to contend with are racism and discrimination.

I really applaud the school’s efforts to introduce the children to other cultures, thereby broadening their horizon and promoting tolerance, respect and appreciation for diversity. I was proud to be part of this effort. And I hope that other parents will participate more in the coming years to help make this world a better place for our kids.

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