|© UNICEF/HQ08-0116/ Markisz|
|Left to right: Minister for Foreign Affairs and Economic Planning of San Marino Fiorenzo Stolfi, Permanent Representative of the Republic of San Marino to the United Nations Daniele Bodini and UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.|
By Susan Markisz
NEW YORK, USA, 4 February 2008 – Last Friday, the Republic of San Marino hosted the second annual San Marino-UNICEF Awards dinner in New York. The focus of the award was active youth participation in community-based programmes as a means to strengthen and protect children’s rights.
The event was hosted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Economic Planning of San Marino, Fiorenzo Stolfi, and the Permanent Representative of the Republic of San Marino to the United Nations, Daniele Bodini.
The 2007 awards – consisting in part of two cash grants of $20,000 from the Alexander Bodini Charitable Foundation – recognized the positive contribution of two UNICEF-supported, child-based organizations: the Burkina Faso Environment and Sanitation Club from Boussouma High School and the Children and Adolescents Communication Agency of Ecuador.
The winning organizations were chosen for their dedication to promoting child rights and for acting as role models and agents of change for children around the world.
“I am extremely pleased to award this prize to two projects,” said Mr. Stolfi. “Indeed, these projects were developed thanks to a synergy between NGOs and UNICEF, which has been operating for more than 60 years in close contact with communities and governments in order to improve children’s living conditions.”
‘Helping to make a difference’
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman accepted the awards on behalf of the winning groups. Ms. Veneman thanked the people of San Marino for their unwavering support of UNICEF.
“More children are in primary school than ever before, especially girls,” Ms. Veneman noted. “And a greater number of children are registered at birth, and fewer children are engaged in child labour. But as we sit here tonight, millions of children around the world continue to suffer.”
Ms. Veneman went on to say that she had met many children who are at risk of dying from treatable diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and measles. She also noted that she had recently met a teenage boy in Haiti who told her that if it were not for a UNICEF programme, he would probably be a gang member on the streets of Port-au-Prince.
“The youth organizations we are here to honour tonight are helping to make a difference in the lives of young people,” Ms. Veneman said.
Two additional awards
In addition to the $20,000 grants, the ceremony also awarded $10,000 each to the UNICEF field offices in Burkina Faso and Ecuador for their support of this year's winners.
“I believe that these two projects are extremely important – since they are based on issues such as education and information on the rights and social problems of children and adolescents, which aim at strengthening local competencies,” said Mr. Stolfi.
|© UNICEF/2008/ Markisz|
|UNICEF Nutrition Consultant Maina Muthee read a letter of thanks written by the President of the Environment and Sanitation Club of Boussouma High School in Burkina Faso, Bazyomo Toussaint.|
Children have a voice
The Children and Adolescents Communication Agency of Ecuador was honoured for its televised reports, which are produced by children and broadcast on national television.
The broadcasts aim to give Ecuadorian children a voice and raise awareness on such issues as child sexual abuse and the situation of marginalized children in urban areas and handicapped youths. In the two years since the inception of the programme, it has produced over 200 stories of children from eight provinces.
“It is our way of telling people we have a voice and our own ideas,” said one youth participant in the programme. Others commented: “This work opened our eyes” ... “It showed us who we are” ... “We want people to see what we see.”
Advocates for youth
The Environment and Sanitation Club of Boussouma High School was selected to receive the award because of its work in environmental advocacy, sanitation, health, agriculture, youth participation and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“This organization is a fine example of a group of young people communicating to raise awareness of the issues affecting children and young people and their families, through on-the-ground activities and peer education,” said Daniele Bodini.
A video presentation of last year’s award winner from the Belizean children’s group ‘My Neighbours and Me’ was also shown during the event.
“We believe that this organization is an example of how a group of young people can use a communication tool like television to contribute to the education and awareness of children’s rights, of social issues around childhood using the common language understood by their peers,” Ms. Bodini said, following the video presentation.
A letter of thanks
The President of the Environment and Sanitation Club of Boussouma High School, Bazyomo Toussaint, wrote a letter of thanks to the Alexander Bodini Foundation, which was read aloud by UNICEF Nutrition Consultant Maina Muthee.
“Your fight for the promotion of child rights is also ours,” Bazyomo wrote. “If it is true that streams of water will become a river one day, we are positive that our little contribution will eventually bear fruits at a larger scale. This will not only be for the benefit of our immediate environment, but also for that of millions of children living in Burkina Faso.”