|© UNICEF China/2008/Pang|
|The participants of the 5th Annual UNICEF Summer Camp for Children Affected by AIDS, with UNICEF China Representative Dr. Yin Yin Nwe (second from the left) and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg HRH Maria-Teresa (second from the right).|
By Lei Pang
BEIJING, China, 11 August 2008 - On Saturday, the 5th Annual UNICEF Summer Camp for Children Affected by AIDS opened with a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People. The ceremony began with a song called 'Tomorrow Will Be Better', which was performed by eight children affected by AIDS.
Among the attendees at the ceremony were 98 children from six provinces in China, all affected by AIDS, as well as 20 Chinese Youth Ambassadors.
Also in attendance were high-level governmental officials, UNICEF China AIDS Ambassador Mr. Pu Cunxin, Olympic Gold Medalist Mr. Lou Yun, CCTV Children’s Hostess Ms. Ju Ping, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and UNICEF Eminent Advocate for Children HRH Maria-Teresa and UNICEF China Representative Dr. Yin Yin Nwe.
Coinciding with the Beijing Olympic Games, which opened on the 8th of August, this year’s camp has adopted the theme of 'Opportunities and Dreams in an Olympic Year'. Activities will include watching Olympic competitions, visiting museums and climbing the Great Wall.
|© UNICEF China/2008/Pang|
|Chinese pop singer Ms. Li Yuchun stands on stage with two of the children affected by HIV/AIDS that took part in the ceremony. They performed a play titled 'Opportunities and Dreams'.|
Realizing the rights of children
One mission of the camp is to actively involve the children in activities that they have all too often had to watch from the sidelines.
“Not all children may be able to fully participate in recreation and cultural activities because of stigma and discrimination due to disability, AIDS or social circumstances. In the Olympic spirit of friendship, unity, and fair play, UNICEF believes the Summer Camp is one example of how children’s rights to participate in recreation and culture, enshrined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child, can be realized,” said Dr. Nwe.
Over the past years, the camp has raised AIDS awareness, realized the rights of children and helped the children learn to cope with illness in their families.
Care and support needed
Despite the progress achieved by UNICEF and the government, many children affected by AIDS in China are still in need of care and support.
“We must defend those children orphaned or affected by AIDS,” said Her Royal Highness Maria-Teresa in her opening speech.
Unfortunately, stigma and discrimination often prevent families and children from seeking government services.
“Discrimination is the first and biggest scandal in our united fight against AIDS. Through information and advocacy, we can help. The launching of this summer camp is a great example of what can be done,” said HRH Maria-Teresa.
The Chinese government, UNICEF and many other organizations are striving to get rid of the stigma associated with AIDS and ensure that children affected by AIDS have access to China’s health, education and welfare services.
The UNICEF Summer Camp for Children Affected by AIDS is just one way in which UNICEF is helping to make these goals a reality, ensuring that tomorrow truly will be better.