Whether they are the flood-hit children of Lakho Pir and Raajgoth, Jharak, or those flood-affected little folks of Jhando Marri, Tando Hafiz, Sindh, Pakistan; be they poor, hungry and sick street children of Calcutta, Bombay or Delhi, India or those in wretched life conditions in Chad, Gabon and Mali; whether they are physically, mentally and socially suffering kids of Bolivia, Peru and Guatemala, Latin America or be it the case of a spoiled child of the opulent; the state of our world’s children is alarming for many reasons.
The UN strives to protect children rights all over the world with education programmes and efforts to abolish child labour, exploitation and abuse. They also provide humanitarian help for children stuck in violent conflicts and natural disasters and for disease-eradication and anti-discrimination campaigns. UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is committed to the cause of our world’s children guided by the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and supported by other agencies of the UN family. Children’s needs and rights are addressed in the Millennium Development Goals, and in the plans emerging from major UN conferences.
Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Water problems affect half of humanity and children form the majority of our world’s population. Moreover, nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict during the 1990s were children and around 20 million children were forced from their homes and communities by fighting. The question is that why, despite all the UN belief and resolve, the state of our world’s children continues to deteriorate: Sometimes answers are found by individuals in places hardly ever imagined of. The year was 1993. The place was Islamabad, Pakistan.
A nine year old school boy wrote and published a little article “UN of my dreams” in a children’s magazine of an English newspaper. The boy talked with a childlike idealism: UN schools, UN farms, UN industry, UN tourism, UN radio and TV and so on. His childlike idealism advocated the building of the ‘world mind’ to combat world problems through UN schools and media inculcating the spirit of coexistence with conflicting views.
The positive thinking exhibited by this boy points towards the attitude that can change the fortunes of our world’s teeming billions. Aid and assistance are fine but these self-interest oriented gestures of goodwill solve problems of our world’s children temporarily. The solution lies in impressing upon world leaders to rise over and above self-interests and plan such aid and assistance that blend food and medicinal help with confidence building and nurturing the spirit of self-reliance in children so that they can stand on their own feet.
It is a question of saving many a child life by prioritizing, streamlining and monitoring customary trends in emergency or relief aid without strings and transforming the mindsets of children by educating them. The majority of our world’s children need a revolutionary change. Who would bring this change, and how, that would not only change the mindset of our world’s children but also their fortunes, is a question of prime importance and a matter of high priority before the UN and leaders of the world?
The writer is educator, philanthropist and freelance media contributor