GUIMARAS, PHILIPPINES, 31 May 2010 - The Perseveranda So Memorial Day Care Centre opened its doors in the island province of Guimaras on 22 May 2010. Dedicated to the former UNICEF Education Chief who was killed in the June 2009 bombing of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar, Pakistan, the center will serve a number of children in the remote village of Barangay San Roque.
Known to her friends and colleagues as Persy, So joined UNICEF in 1994 and worked as the Chief of Education in the Philippines office where she advocated for the passage of the Early Childhood Care and Development law, helped pioneer multi-grade teaching and implemented the child-friendly school system in the country. Her work also brought her to Indonesia and Cambodia and eventually to Pakistan where she served in UNICEF’s Islamabad office.
UNICEF country representative Vanessa Tobin who attended the center’s opening said other memorials are planned as a tribute to So as she praised her commitment to children’s welfare and education.
“It’s very difficult to work for UNICEF,” she said. “It’s not a 9 to 5 job. You become dedicated. It’s different because it’s for children. It’s your children. It’s our children. Persy worked everywhere. The most important future any country has is its children. Peshawar is very beautiful, but violent. The risk to staff can’t be underestimated, but the risk to children is even greater. We support the construction of daycare centers where we can and San Roque is an example of where UNICEF wanted to do something to honor Persy.”
Family members who also attended the opening said the center is the best way to honor So who dedicated her life to making sure that children around the world have access to quality education.
“We never expected such a warm welcome. My daughter always talked about ECCD, but I never understood. When I was younger, we started school at the age of 7. We didn’t even know how to hold pencils. Persy said when she visited children in remote areas, her heart went out to them,” said her father, Ernesto So.
The daycare center, constructed by UNICEF, has separate washrooms for boys and girls and is stocked with complete ECCD materials including picture books, musical instruments and toys. Studies show that children who attend daycare fare better in early grades and are less likely to drop out from school.
Guimaras Governor Felipe Nava who also graced the event said they were thankful for the daycare center, which will prepare the village’s children for a lifetime of learning. He added that the community is committed to maintaining the center for future generations.
“It would be a failure on our part if we didn’t continue Ms. So’s example of selflessness for the good of children,” he said.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Marge Francia, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Philippines,
Tel +632 9010173 / + 632 917.858.9447,
Angela Travis, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines,
Tel +632 901-0177 / +632 917.867.8366,