'Say Yes for Children' campaign begins today

by Stacey Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
August 10, 2001

A SIGNATURE campaign named, 'Say Yes for Children - Guyana 2001', will be launched today, and its main objective is to make the world a better place for children everywhere.

The international campaign was launched by former South African President Nelson Mandela and his wife, Ms Graca Machel.

The local campaign is organised by the National Commission for the Rights of the Child (NCRC), which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

At a press conference held yesterday at the Hotel Tower, Minister within the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, Ms Bibi Shadick, said that children need to grow and develop in a happy and peaceful atmosphere where they can realise whatever talents and contributions they have to make to society.

"The 'Say Yes for Children Campaign' is not a Guyanese thing. It is a worldwide thing - a global campaign."

"Our `Say Yes' campaign is asking Guyanese and the world to say yes to ten goals or actions that we would like to see in the world where children (can benefit)," she pointed out.

""These are actions we would like to see implemented in the world at large for the improvement of children's lives," the Minister stated.

She noted the actions would be aspects of the pledge that will be distributed to organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and for individuals to sign. Persons will be asked to indicate the three most urgent issues in Guyana.

The ten goals or actions are:
Leave No Child Out.
Put Children First.
Care for Every Child.
Stop Harming and Exploiting Children.
Listen to Children.
Educate Every Child.
Protect Children From War.
Protect the Earth for Children

Fight Poverty - Invest in Children.
Minister Shadick said that while there will be some schoolchildren present at today's launching ceremony of the campaign, there would not be the numbers the organisers would have wanted because of the long August vacation. However, a rally will be held early in the new school year so that a great number of children could participate in the formal ceremony of the campaign.

There will also be a Guyana delegation at the Special Session for Children to be held in New York from September 19 to 21. It is planned that a child or children will be on the Guyana delegation, the Minister explained.

According to her, at this year's caucus, reports would be presented by countries, governments and organisations on the progress made in implementing the recommendations that were made at the 1990 World Summit for Children.

At that forum, a Plan of Action was established and it focused on reducing child and maternal mortality rates, preventable diseases, illiteracy and malnutrition.

Emphasis was also placed on the need for children's universal access to basic education, safe drinking water and protection from abuse.

Since 1990, there has been progress with regard to children's development. Many of them have been immunised against measles and tetanus as well as polio.

Children have also formed their own parliaments and peace movements. But with the upsurge of HIV/AIDS, countries are faced with more challenges and much more needs to be done, since every day, 7,000 young people are infected with the virus and at least 30 per cent of children under five years old, suffer from severe or moderate malnutrition, a press release said.

"The Special Session therefore provides a powerful opportunity to mobilise attention for the Global Movement for Children and to set parameters for future progress and galvanise renewed commitment on behalf of children," it added.

Assistant Representative of UNICEF in Guyana, Ms Sreelakshmi Gururaja, told the briefing that her organisation is extremely happy to be partners with the Government in this campaign, and will continue this collaboration for the well-being and fulfillment of the lives of children.

"What we have here, is a situation where we would build on a pattern and optimise the available resources and ask for more resources for children," she indicated.