Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

To celebrate Universal Children’s Day, ChildFund Australia Nigel Spence penned an open letter to children and young people around the world.
Dear children and young people,
On behalf of ChildFund I am writing to express best wishes for Universal Children’s Day, that will be celebrated globally on November 20th.
This is a day that reminds people of the world —children and adults— of the importance of the human rights of children as set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). For ChildFund staff, partners and supporters, the CRC is of the greatest importance because it sets out the ideals that we want to see realised for every child’s rights to survive, develop, to be protected and to participate in decisions.
Universal Children’s Day is also a time for adults, organisations and governments to remember their responsibilities to care for and respect children, and to re-commit to meeting these obligations as duty-bearers. There is much to be done in all countries around the globe to ensure that every child has their rights respected and upheld.
This special day also provides an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the joy, promise and the many contributions that children bring to the daily lives of families, communities and societies. Thank you for the many ways that you enrich our lives!
Wherever you are at home, at school, in your village, community or neighbourhood I sincerely hope that you will enjoy Universal Children’s Day and the days and weeks ahead in safety and in good health, with family, friends and others who show care and respect for children.
Yours sincerely,
Nigel Spence

Growing up in a small village in remote Cambodia, Lima always wanted to be a teacher.

But, for a long time, school was the last place the 13-year-old wanted to be.

His classroom was filled with the putrid smell coming from nearby fields where Lima and his 200 schoolmates were forced to go to the toilet.

“Some students drop out of school as there is no place to defecate, so they don’t want to come to school,” Lima says.

“Before we had toilets, students would go the field, or along the school fence, making the school smell very bad. I didn’t want to come to school especially on labor day (a weekly day which, as part of the Cambodian curriculum, is dedicated to students cleaning the school) as it’s very dirty.”

For millions of children like Lima, the simple toilet can mean education and opportunity, by ensuring children don’t drop out too early. For girls and young women, this is particularly important.

In addition, without effective sanitation, communities become breeding grounds for disease, which disproportionately affects children.