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Kick for Trade, Teaching Life Skills with Football in Developing CountriesThe International Trade Center and UEFA Foundation for Children have partnered up to teach children entrepreneurial skills through football in developing countries. This initiative was brought on by a need for children in poverty to overcome external hiring factors, such as skills mismatch or a lack of financing. Worldwide, 59 million teens and children are unemployed and almost 136 million are employed yet still living in poverty. Football was chosen as a conduit to address these issues because it is increasingly recognized as a sport used for community development and to address social issues. This program, Kick for Trade, uses the sport to teach life skills in developing countries, including Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Kick for Trade

The Kick for Trade curriculum was unveiled in August 2020 at UEFA headquarters to honor International Youth Day. The program had initial pilot projects in Gambia and Guinea in 2019, and after its success, additional projects were planned to take place in Angola, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. Unfortunately, COVID-19 derailed Kick for Trade’s plans in these countries. However, the program is expected to be implemented as soon as it is safe to do so.

Once implemented, the program will feature trained life-skills coaches who will teach 11 sessions each on youth employability and entrepreneurship. The goal of the program is to teach skills like leadership and teamwork to children through football in developing countries. Specifically, the life skills of problem-solving, creative thinking, communication, interpersonal skills, empathy and resilience. The lessons require minimal equipment, making the program accessible for any child who would like to learn life skills in order to be more employable.

Kick for Trade’s Projects in Developing Countries

Kick for Trade is expected to teach 1,500 children employment skills throughout the selected countries. UEFA has helped one million children worldwide through its various programs since its creation five years ago. These programs span 100 countries, reaching all five continents. The specific Kick for Trade programs in developing countries will highlight different targets depending on the country.

Uganda was chosen for the gender equality project that uses football in developing countries to reduce women poverty and improve education for girls. More than 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30, and the youth unemployment rate is 13.3%. This program is an effort to decrease the gender gap to decrease unemployment levels for youth.

Angola was chosen for UEFA’s project on health improvement and crime prevention for at-risk children. Communicable diseases account for 50% of deaths in Angola. Teaching children proper health techniques is an effort to lower this statistic.

The UEFA saw that Cameroon could benefit from its ethnic integration project. This project focuses on using football in rural areas to promote peace. Since 2016, Cameroon has experienced protests and violence as a result of the division between the Anglophones and the Francophones. Encouraging peace between children will hopefully help to end this violence.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo will be home to Kick for Trade’s project that aids children living on the streets. This project aims to intervene as early as possible to provide homeless children with the assistance they need. In the capital city of Kinshasa, almost 30,000 children under the age of 18 are homeless. Homeless children are often recruited by law enforcement officials to disrupt political protests, causing them injury or death. They are also often taken advantage of by adults and older children. This program works to take vulnerable children off the streets and provide them with a safe place to live, improving their quality of life and future prospects.

These programs will be rolled out once it’s determined safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, these programs will continue to positively benefit children looking for employment in developing countries.

—Rae Brozovich
Photo: Flickr

5 Most Influential Photographs: Children in PovertySome of history’s most prominent and influential moments have been documented by a camera. Whether born into a low-income household or displaced by war, millions of children have lived in poverty. Over the years, thousands of photographs regarding child poverty have surfaced, engraving sympathy in millions of hearts and impacting the world. Currently, every 1 in 3 children lives in poverty. Here are 5 of the most influential photographs of children in poverty.

5 Most Influential Photographs of Children in Poverty

  1. Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange: Dorothea Lange took Migrant Mother in 1936, the photograph epitomizes the effects of the Great Depression. It depicts the disparity and destitute the United States was in. The Congressional Budget Office reported that from 1930 to 1939, the United States debt increased by 150%. In addition, around half of Americans fell into poverty. Florence Owens Thompson, the subject of the photograph, was a mother of seven children working in agriculture. Her family inhabited a leaning tent in Nipomo, California whilst living off of frozen vegetables found on surrounding fields and birds killed by her children. Moreover, around 20,000 schools closed down nationwide. As a result, this put 750,000 children on the National Youth Administration (NYA) program. Due to the separation of families, there are more than 200,000 deserted children wandered around the United States.
  2. Albino Boy, Biafra by Don McCullin: In 1969, Don McCullin, a British photographer captured an enthralling image of a young. It is a photograph of a severely malnourished orphan in present Nigeria. Additionally, the image depicts a juxtaposition through the solitary state of the boy due to his albinism and the “normality” of his peers. This picture alone shone a light onto an unknown war and spread the inhumanity of war. As a result, it incited thousands of households throughout the United States and Europe to donate to the cause. At the time, Biafra, a state composed of the ethnic minority, constantly fought with Nigeria over resources. Consequently, this affected over one million civilian casualties due to starvation and another million from war. Moreover, Biafra denied foreign aid in the beginning. Thus, it put most of its population under extreme poverty.
  3. The Terror of War by Nick Ut: After being shot in 1976, “The Terror of War” has become an icon of the Vietnam War. In the photograph, crying children flee from a war-torn battlefield while a group of soldiers surrounds them. Through the image, people felt the pain and suffering of the children, impassiveness of the soldiers and sorrow for the fallen soldiers. According to UNHCR, over 3 million people were displaced in the Vietnam War, leaving 800,000 children orphaned by the conflict. Luckily, 3,000 of the orphans were airlifted to the United States in Operation Babylift.
  4. The Vulture and the Little Girl by Kevin Carter: In the image, an emaciated child huddles on a field of debris while a vulture watches her as if waiting for her death. Ravaged by war and drought, South Sudan affirmed that the nation was in a state of famine. More than 90% of the population lives under the poverty line, affecting the children of the state. About 1 in 5 children attend school while 75% of the population lacks access to healthcare. These aspects are crucial in lifting people out of poverty. However, looking at the land and resources, South Sudan has the potential to become a wealthy country, improving the general economy of the entire nation.
  5. A Starving Boy and A Missionary by Mike Wells: In 1980, Mike Wells caught a seemingly “beautiful” moment between a catholic missionary and a starving Ugandan boy. The boy developed malnutrition because of the famine from attle raiding and droughts in Karamoja, Uganda. Half of the infants and 20% of the population of Karamoja died during the crisis. UNFPA states that 61% of the people in the region live in poverty. In addition, only 0.9% of students aged 6-12 enrolled in school. Unable to break the poverty cycle, the UN is focusing on rehabilitating this area.

Photographs of suffering often ignite passion throughout people, inflicting change amongst society. At present, there are multiple organizations and countries aiding people in need in order for the world not to take any more photographs of agony.

Zoe Chao

Photo: Flickr

child poverty in ThailandOver the last several years, Thailand has made impressive progress in reducing poverty. It has gone down from 67 percent in 1986 to only 7.2 percent in 2015. While there has been considerable progress made, poverty is still a major problem in Thailand, especially among children. The following are 10 important facts about child poverty in Thailand.

10 Facts About Child Poverty in Thailand

  1. It is estimated that about one million children in Thailand are living in vulnerable conditions. Child poverty in Thailand is a serious issue. These vulnerable individuals include children that live in poverty, have lost their parents, have a disability or have been forced to live on the streets.
  2. Child labor has long been a problem. It is estimated that more than eight percent of children between ages five and 14 are involved in the workforce. Impoverished children have no option but to enter into factory work, fishery work, construction or agriculture. Young children are also often forced into the commercial sex industry. Riley Winter, a student who recently traveled to Thailand, told The Borgen Project she witnessed children were giving tourists foot massages for just a small amount of money.
  3. Around 380,000 children have been left as orphans by the AIDS epidemic. This greatly affects child poverty in Thailand; many of these children are forced to live on the streets or enter the workforce because they have no one to care for them. It is also estimated that 200 to 300 children will be born HIV-positive each year.
  4. Poor children in Thailand do not have full access to medical care. Out of the 20,000 children are affected by HIV/AIDS, only 1,000 of them have access to medical care.
  5. Children are being exploited. Thailand has become wealthier and, consequently, trafficking networks have been expanding to poorer and isolated children in the country. Child poverty in Thailand has led these children to enter commercial sexual exploitation.
  6. Child poverty in Thailand makes it difficult for poorer children to remain in school. They do not have access to the necessary tools to succeed and remain in school so they are often forced to drop out. The wealthiest group has 81.6 percent of children of primary school age enter grade one while only 65.3 percent of the poorest group enter grade one.
  7. Arranged marriages are very prevalent in Thailand today. A man from a wealthy family is often chosen because the dowry system is still utilized in Thailand. The wealthy man will give the bride’s parents money in exchange for her hand in marriage. This happens in poor communities in Thailand very often, taking away the possibility for the impoverished girl to receive future education, among other things.
  8. Children are being forced to live on the streets due to things like violence, abuse and poverty. These children often beg or sell small goods for just a bit of money each day. They are at risk of poor health and lack of nutrition.
  9. Children are being left in rural communities. Thailand’s economy has been moving away from the agricultural sector and more money can be made in urban areas. Parents are forced to go to work in bigger cities like Bangkok, and children are often left in the care of someone else in rural villages.Parents send money back to their family but children often only get to see their parents one to two times a year. Although the parents are making more money, leaving their children comes with a risk. Children left in these rural communities are at risk of malnutrition and developmental and behavioral issues.
  10. Since the 1990s, child poverty in Thailand has been rapidly improving. The number of child deaths has decreased, literacy rates have dramatically increased, fewer children are malnourished and there are more children in school and less in the workforce.

There have been countless efforts made in Thailand to address child poverty but there is still a lot of work to be done. The nation has set long-term economic goals to be reached by 2036. These goals address economic stability, human capital and equal economic opportunities. These goals will be crucial going forward to help fight child poverty in Thailand.

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

The Merits of a Focus on Children in Extreme PovertyChildren are the world’s future. This phrase is often uttered, yet across the globe it is rarely enforced. Children in extreme poverty are affected differently than adults. Between inadequate nutrition, exposure to stress and a lack of early stimulation and learning, the disadvantages of growing up in poverty last a lifetime.

Consequences such as stunted development, low levels of skills needed for life and work, limited future productivity as adults and the generational cycle of poverty inhibit change in children living in poverty. These consequences are especially heinous because they debilitate the global human capital needed to grow and sustain economic prosperity.

Report Details Extent of Children in Extreme Poverty

Based on data from 89 countries representing 84 percent of the developing world’s population, UNICEF and The World Bank Group estimated that 385 million children were living in extremely poor households in 2013. Children are more than twice as likely to be living in households in extreme poverty. Roughly 19 percent of children in extreme poverty are estimated to be living on less than $1.90 a day, compared to an estimated 9 percent of adults.

The World Bank Group and UNICEF researchers conducted a comprehensive range of tests to check if changing these assumptions would affect their results. They tested their findings against realistic large and small economies of scale, as well as a range of realistic ratios comparing children’s consumption to adults’. In all cases, children still emerged with higher poverty rates across developing countries.

The World Bank Group is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world as the world’s largest funder of education, the largest external financier of the fight against HIV/AIDS and the largest international financier of biodiversity projects, water supply and sanitation projects.

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child. With work in 190 countries and territories, UNICEF translates that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children to the benefit of all children in extreme poverty.

Recommendations for Governments to Help Children in Extreme Poverty

Together, UNICEF and The World Bank Group have established partnerships with governments across the globe to address child poverty and to promote a range of cross-sector investments in the early years of life. Their goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030. This vision is central to the work of the World Bank Group and UNICEF. The two organizations are calling on governments to focus on four main areas to combat extreme poverty:

  • Ensure that the number of children in extreme poverty is routinely measured and addressed at the national level as countries work towards both ending extreme poverty by 2030 and improving the well-being of their poorest citizens.
  • Make deliberate policy decisions that ensure a country’s economic growth benefits all of its citizens, including making sure children are fully considered in poverty reduction plans.
  • Strengthen child-sensitive social protection systems, including cash transfer programs that give direct payments to families to help lift children out of poverty and protect them from its impacts.
  • Prioritize investments in education, health, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and infrastructure that benefit the poorest children and prevent people from falling back into poverty after setbacks like droughts, disease or economic instability.

Addressing these multidimensional aspects of children in extreme poverty is crucial. In the face of a global economic slowdown, ending extreme child poverty by 2030 will not be easy. However, change is possible.

– Richard Zarrilli

Photo: Flickr

Poverty hinders economic growth
Efforts to reduce global poverty have been largely successful over the past few years. However one of the highest costs is that poverty hinders economic growth. It is a preventable burden that has solutions.

Here are five facts from around the world on how poverty hinders economic growth and what you can do to help reduce global poverty:

1. The effects of poverty cost U.K. citizens about 1,200 pounds per person every year.

According to the Guardian, 25 percent of health care spending is associated with treating conditions related to poverty; 20 percent of the U.K.’s education budget is spent on initiatives, like free school meals, to reduce the impact of poverty.

2. Child poverty reduces U.S. productivity and economic output by 1.3 percent of GDP each year, which costs the U.S. about $500 billion per year.

Economic hardship disproportionately affects children more than any other age group. The Center for American Progress believes impoverished children are more likely to have low earnings as adults and are somewhat more likely to engage in crime.

This “reduced productive activity” generates a direct loss of goods and services to the U.S. economy.

3. Children living in poverty have higher dropout rates and absenteeism, which limits their employability.

The Council of State Governments Knowledge Center found that nearly 30 percent of poor children do not complete high school, which limits future economic success.

A more educated individual is more likely to participate in the job market, to have a job, to work more hours, to be paid more and less likely to be unemployed according to an Economic Policy Institute report from August 2013.

Countries may see a rise in economic productivity by ensuring that children from low-income backgrounds have equitable access and are motivated to stay in school.

4. Poverty increases the risk of poor health; it is a $7.6 billion burden on the Canadian health care system.

The link between poor health and poverty is undeniable; the World Health Organization (WHO) declares poverty as the single largest determinant of health.

Poverty increases the likelihood of developing conditions that are expensive to treat such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, reducing poverty not only cultivates a healthy economy but it can also create a physically healthier society.

5. Billions of people — especially women — remain offline.

Developing countries are paying the cost of poverty while missing out on the economic benefits of increased internet access.

Women and the Web, a study sponsored by Intel, reveals that bringing an additional 600 million women online would contribute at least $13-18 billion to annual GDP across the developing world.

Increasing internet access in developing countries would also increase participation in e-commerce and increase access to educational resources and health services.

Want to help in the global fight to end poverty?

Mobilizing your congressional leaders to endorse poverty-reducing legislation has a widespread impact on reducing the high cost of poverty. For example, the Digital GAP Act aims to bring affordable, first-time internet access for at least 1.5 billion people in developing countries by 2020 and would help to bridge the digital divide. This will greatly facilitate change and decrease the way that poverty hinders economic growth.

Please visit The Borgen Project’s action center for more information on how you can contact your congressional leaders and voice your support for innovative, poverty-reducing legislation.

Daniela Sarabia

Photo: Pixabay

charitable_christmas_gift
Compassion International is a Christian organization dedicated to helping children who are living in poverty. Below are some charitable Christmas gift options from the organization’s “Gift Catalog” that allows people to give to families living in poverty.

1. HIV/AIDS Care. A $25 donation can go a long way to providing much needed medical care to those suffering from HIV/AIDs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV/AIDS was responsible for an estimated 1.1 million deaths in 2013 and children are the most susceptible.

Compassion International estimates that 1,000 children are infected with HIV every day. Medical breakthroughs have helped curb the global killer, but the disease continues to rage on. This charitable Christmas gift donation would help…

  • Educate families on prevention techniques
  • Treat children and families infected through antiretroviral means
  • Provide care for those indirectly affected

2. Water Wells. According to Water.org, 663 million people do not have access to potable water, one in every ten people. A $34 donation can help provide clean and safe access to water for those that need it by allowing them to have:

  • A borehole well construction
  • The ability to install a water store unit, including a pump and other hardware
  • Reduced cases of waterborne diseases and illnesses

3. Goats or Other Animals. What many people may think of as pets, people in developing countries think of as a life source. Having a goat, cow or chicken can mean milk, eggs, wool or food for people living in developing countries. A $100 donation for livestock would help those living in poverty to:

  • Generate a source of income by selling eggs, wool, or milk from the animal
  • Become self-sufficient and less reliant on others
  • Establish a business by rendering services

charitable_Christmas_gift

4. Mosquito Nets. According to WHO, 438,000 deaths were linked to malaria in 2015. Most of those were deaths of children under the age of five. However, nearly half of the world’s population, 3.2 million people, are at risk for the disease. An $18 charitable Christmas gift donation for a malaria net would help in the following ways:

  • A bed net treated with insecticide to eliminate malaria transmission
  • Training on how to use the net
  • Education on ways to prevent mosquito breeding areas

5. Food for a Baby and a Mother. Malnutrition is something that is all too real for families living in developing countries. According to The Hunger Project, 98 percent of the world’s undernourished people inhabit developing nations.

It is also estimated that 795 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. Of those 795 million, 214 million live in Africa and 525.6 million live in Asia according to The Hunger Project. A $15 monthly donation can help mothers and children receive the nutrition they need to retain their strength. It can also:

  • Ensure health for mothers and children by eating recommended food
  • Put on and keep weight for better health and development
  • Help mothers and children eat appropriately by providing “fortified nutritional supplements”

The suggestions provided are only a handful of options. There are, of course, many other charitable options that can help people in need. For other charitable Christmas gift giving ideas, visit Compassion International.

– Alyson Atondo

Sources: WHO 1, Water.org, THP, WHO 2, WHO 3, Compassion 1, Compassion 2
Photo: Flickr, Pixabay

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a Zulu word that translates to “human kindness.” The Ubuntu Education Fund aims to create long lasting change in the impoverished townships of Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

The effectiveness of the program can be credited to its three over-arching programs: household sustainability, health and education. This strategy has “received international acclaim from Bill Clinton to the World Economic Forum.”

“Why can’t our poor children in Africa have an education? Why does it have to be a privilege? Why can’t it be a child’s right?” stated CEO and Co-Founder of The Ubuntu Education Fund Jacob Lief at the grand opening of the Ubuntu Center on Sept. 16, 2010.

The Ubuntu Center is located in the heart of Port Elizabeth’s townships, one of the largest slums in the world. The center offers a pediatric HIV center, pharmacy, classrooms, computer labs and a theater.

“Ubuntu graduates attain successes that few in their community ever realize and, in doing so, they are redefining what the world believes to be possible in disadvantaged communities,” stated Lief.

Since its establishment in 2010, the Ubuntu Center has supported the 2,000 children and indirectly supported the community. A study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that “Ubuntu graduates will contribute $195,000 to society, while their peers will cost society $9,000.”

In addition to providing child health care, the pediatric clinic offers prenatal and postnatal care, HIV and TB testing and treatment.

“Ubuntu’s impact is transformative – from HIV-positive mothers giving birth to healthy, HIV-negative babies, to vocational-tracked youth in our Ubuntu Pathways (UP) program securing employment,” said Lief.

The program also provides child protection services and psychosocial counseling to ensure stable homes in order for children to thrive in their education. The dynamic school program included university scholarships and “job readiness training.”

The program emphasizes “depth rather than breadth of impact” which is why within four years of joining Ubuntu, 82 percent of people are “on-track towards stable health and employment,” said Lief.

Former President Bill Clinton visited the Ubuntu Center in August 2013 and had this to say: “Ubuntu has come so far. We’re very proud of your work. This is an amazing organization that actually ensures its people are taken care of.”

Chelsea Clinton, his daughter, added, “The Ubuntu model is incredible; you start early and work with children their entire lives.”

– Marie Helene Ngom

Sources: Forbes, Ubuntu Blog, YouTube
Photo: Flickr

foreign_aid
The Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the top international agency for global health data collection and analysis, has provided a new report which scores the impact of foreign aid investments made over the past fifteen years.

The study, recently published in the Lancet Medical Journal, determined that between 2000 and 2014, low and middle-income nations invested $133 billion US into child health initiatives. These investments are estimated to have saved the lives of 20 million infants and children.

An additional $73.6 billion US of foreign aid investments provided by donors, both governmental and privatized, accounted for the saving of an additional 14 million infant and child lives, the IHME estimates.

In total, an estimated 34 million children’s lives have been saved in the past 15 years. The report estimates that US foreign aid investments saved the largest number of children under-five, with 3.3 million lives saved. The UK was also noted as a significant factor in this progress and is estimated to have saved 1.7 million lives through their own development funding. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation proved to be the largest privatized donor, having saved an estimated 1.5 million lives.

Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and Malaria, collaborated with the IHME to produce this report and hopes to use this form of analysis in the future to track the success of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Chambers said in an interview about the new score, “We know that despite the efforts of governments and donors to improve health in low-income and middle-income countries, too many children die before the age of five. Without a way to monitor and publicly share progress regularly, we will miss the opportunity to build on the momentum we have seen since the millennium declaration.”

The IHME estimates that within the most impoverished nations, the cost to save a child’s life is about $4,000 US. The organization stated in its report that within countries such as Tanzania and Haiti, the costs are $4,205. They estimate within nations such as Botswana and Thailand, where economies are more developed, that the costs to save a child’s life are above $10,000 US due to high health care costs.

The Director of the IHME, Dr. Christopher Murray, said in a recent interview, “You can spend $4,000 on many different things, but there are very few places where the money would deliver the kind of impact you get by investing it in child health.” He continued in reasoning, “If you invest in the poorest countries, you will see the biggest impact in child health because the costs of things like nutrition programmes, vaccines and primary care are lower.”

The report analyzed both governmental and privatized donors and included internationally renowned agencies such the Global Fund, World Bank, UNICEF, USAid and Gavi. The study concluded that the efforts and financial support of Gavi, a global non-profit organization focused on vaccination, has saved over 2.2 million lives.

Looking towards future development initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Murray said, “We have seen such incredible success in saving children’s lives over the past 15 years. We need to take what we have learned from that experience and push for more progress and more accountability as we enter the era of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.”

The Sustainable Development Goals were developed at the UN Rio+20 Conference in 2012 and are designed to build upon the progress of the Millennium Development Goals in the coming years.

James Thornton

Sources: The Guardian, News-Medical
Photo: The Guardian

UNICEF In association with the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, Canadian and U.S. celebrities are participating in the #HighFiveIt campaign for UNICEF with the universal high-five gesture.

According to UNICEF, almost one thousand children die every day worldwide because of the lack of clean water. Conditions are worsened for those without proper nutrition, immunizations, safety and infant health.

The #HighFiveIt campaign raises money to develop strategies to solve these issues as well as implement the plans created. UNICEF will also help to educate the areas that suffer from these problems with techniques that continue to improve upon the tactics that UNICEF will put in place.

In Canada, Karina LeBlanc, the Canadian Women’s National Team goalkeeper and UNICEF ambassador, helped start the campaign by high-fiving Christine Sinclair, the captain of Canada’s team.
UNICEF asks that supporters take part in #HighFiveIt by posting a photo or video of a high-five during a sporting match, tagging five friends in the post and donating to UNICEF.

Among the supporters are many celebrities who have pledged to help save lives of children in poor areas. Disney Channel stars Calum Worthy, Raini Rodriguez and Laura Marano are giving their high-fives for UNICEF, and so are Rico Rodriguez from “Modern Family” and Peter Mooney, Missy Peregrym, Priscilla Faia and Erin Karpluck from “Rookie Blue.”

In addition, several other Canadian and American politicians, athletes and celebrities are pledging to #HighFiveIt to save citizens in poor areas.

UNICEF Canada’s Chief Development Officer, Sharon Avery, said that she is very pleased with the support from these celebrities as their backing will draw a lot of attention to the cause.

“It’s wonderful to see our homegrown talent, along with several American celebrities, taking part in this campaign to save lives,” Avery said. “I’ve seen the impact of UNICEF’s work with children in Honduras and Dominica and am excited to have my passions — soccer and reaching children through UNICEF — come together with #HighFiveIt.”

Though their involvement was very important, celebrities were not the only people taking part in #HighFiveIt. 7,238 UNICEF fans took part in the Guinness World Record for the greatest number of people simultaneously giving a high-five. This event broke the previous record by 2,542 people.

With such a large number of supporters giving high-fives, UNICEF hopes to reach their goals. The organization’s website offers five different life-saving options to donate to, the first being “greatest gift.” If the donator chooses to give to “greatest gift,” the money will be presented to areas that need change the most.

“Children living in conflict and vulnerable situations will benefit from your generosity,” UNICEF said.

By selecting “infant health,” the donator will fund the implementation of baby-friendly hospitals, training of health-care workers and breastfeeding education for mothers. If the supporter chooses “vaccines,” the donation will be used to provide vital vaccinations for tetanus, polio, measles and other life-threatening diseases. By clicking on “nutrition,” the funding will go to efforts to end starvation and malnutrition, and with the selection of “water,” the donation will be used to create water-catchment devices for a better opportunity to provide clean water to developing areas.

Because UNICEF presents the chance of choosing to give directly to causes that the supporter prefers, the organization has created a more personal donation experience. That being said, each dollar the supporter gives to their choice source will be matched by UNICEF, up to two million dollars.

Celebrities and fans of UNICEF can potentially raise more than four million dollars with this promise. To join the cause and help save the lives of people in need, go to unicef.ca or search #HighFiveIt.

Fallon Lineberger

Sources: Look to the Stars, UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2, UNICEF 3
Photo: Newswire

Cambodian-Street-Children
In Cambodia, a country whose economic index consistently ranks lower than the regional Asia-Pacific average, many strides have been made in recent years in order to alleviate poverty levels, strides that have moved the country into the lower-middle class. Attempts to meet the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals, or CMDG’s, have also prompted successful efforts aimed at poverty alleviation, resulting in a decrease in poverty levels from 50% in 2007 to below 20% in 2012, according to the Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey.

Despite these broad strokes of progress in recent years, a third of the Cambodian population continues to live below the national poverty line, which was set at US$0.61 (R2,470) in 2007. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has also revealed that close to 40% of Cambodian children suffer from hunger, while 22% of the population continues to live in severe poverty.

Cambodia has struggled to recover from the legacy left behind by the Cambodian genocide —conducted by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge — that killed an estimated 3 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. One of the legacies of Pol Pot’s reign of terror, for instance, can be observed with regards to the structure of Cambodian demographics. Due to the Khmer Rouge’s systematic targeting of senior citizens, who were considered unfit to work as farmers in the Cambodian countryside, and the significant baby-booms that occurred at the conclusion of Pol Pot’s reign in the 1980s and 1990s, youths now make up a disproportionate percent of the Cambodian population. Out of a total population of 14.0 million, around 5.1 million (49.5%) are children under the age of 18.

Of this 49.5%, studies have also found that about 18% of children age 5 to 17 are engaged in economic activities, with the average age at which a child starts working set at 10.4 years old. These children are deemed street children, for as defined by the United Nations, “any boy or girl for whom the street in the widest sense of the word has become his or her habitual abode and/or source of livelihood, and who is inadequately protected, supervised or directed by responsible adults.”

A study conducted by the Cambodian Street Children Network (CSCN) discovered that these children take to the street for a variety of reasons. Traditional norms in Cambodian society, for instance, foster a mentality in which all members of the household are expected to contribute to the family’s livelihood. The fact that poverty is widespread in Cambodian society and that only 7% of occupations can earn more than US$3 a day, while 38% of occupations yield less than US$1, contributes to a scenario in which income generated from begging comes to be regarded as a “career;” especially as it can yield up to $15 a day in tourist-dense regions such as Siem Reap, home to the Angkor Wat mega-complex. Add to this the fact that many of these street children come from outer provinces in order to escape or alleviate poverty at home, have lost at least one parent or are orphaned by diseases such as AIDS — it is no wonder that the street is regarded as an opportune place to reap a profit.

In addition to these contributing factors, Cambodia also has a weak law enforcement set in place to protect street children. For instance, despite a Labor Code which establishes the minimum age for employment at 15 years, CSCN has noted that there is a pervasive and blatant disregard for this law, and others. According to the latest CSCN study, conducted in 2011, children under the age of 18 engage in a variety of street activities including, but not limited to, begging. The study found that, among various activities, 19% engaged in begging, 17% in scavenging, 7% in construction work, 5% in selling petty goods, 5% in stealing and 3% in picking insects.

The phenomenon of Cambodia’s street children is inextricably connected to Cambodia’s levels of poverty and its current ineffectiveness in dealing with a significantly youthful population. In light of this, it is thus important to reflect that Cambodia has been making strides to alleviate levels of poverty within the country since the 1990s. Many organizations, such as the CSCN, the Anjali House, an education center created for former street children in Siem Reap, and the ChildSafe hotlines, managed by English-speaking Khmer social workers, have also been set up in recent years in order to directly address the issue of Cambodia’s many children who take to the streets to survive.

However, in order to most effectively rescue Cambodia’s street children, more drastic steps need to be taken to alleviate poverty and to strengthen a corrupt and failed justice system — factors which ultimately foster and enable a Cambodian street child’s existence.

– Ana Powell

Sources: Asian Development Bank, Cambodian Street Children Network Canodia, The Heritage Foundation World Bank
Photo: Campus Gup Shup