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Children participate through art to advocate for their right to grow up healthy

© UNICEF Mozambique/E. Machiana
Children participating in the workshop painted what they think is necessary for them to enjoy a healthy growth. 14 year old Sebastião painted about the importance of vaccination.

Maputo, 13 July 2007 – Boys and girls aged 14 to 15 from the Arco-Iris (Rainbow) child protection centre in Maputo have taken part in producing several paintings on the right of the children to grow up healthy. The event took place during a painting workshop held on 23-24 June in the Visual Arts School in Maputo. 

The aim of the workshop was to involve the children in developing advocacy materials, in which – through painting – they expressed what children need in order to enjoy a healthy growth. The resulting paintings will be used to illustrate posters and the UNICEF Mozambique calendar for 2008, which will be distributed among the various national and international partners responsible for achieving children’s rights.

“With these initiatives, UNICEF aims to increase the opportunities for participation by children, particularly the most vulnerable children. Thus they become increasingly aware that they can also have an active role in advocacy for their rights”, said the UNICEF Representative in Mozambique, Leila Pakkala.

Before taking up the brushes and leaning creatively over the canvases, the children were invited to discuss among themselves what they consider are the main threats to their survival and healthy growth.

During the debate, they identified what should be done and what should be provided. Several interventions were identified as vital, such as vaccination, malaria prevention, access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation, appropriate nutrition, and access to health services, amongst others.

With technical guidance from a team of professionals, provided with good quality painting materials, and installed in the appropriate environment of a school of visual arts, the children could then use their imagination and illustrate their points of view. After two days of creative work, they were happy with the paintings they produced.

© UNICEF Mozambique/E. Machiana
Like the other children participating, Adelaide (left) and Nuna (centre), both aged 14, learnt how to mix paints, and use a paintbrush to illustrate their points of view on canvas.

“I really liked painting here. I had a huge space and lots of paints. I drew a child sleeping under a mosquito net, to teach people not to sleep without the nets” said 14 year old Adelaide.

The workshop was organised with UNICEF support by the well known Mozambican painter Gemuce, who is also an art teacher and chairperson of the country’s Movement of Contemporary Art. UNICEF has been encouraging the involvement of an increasing number of Mozambican artists in advocacy for promoting children’s rights, inviting them to head initiatives such as this.
“Experienced artists and art teachers play a fundamental role. They are able to influence the new generation of plastic artists to use their talents to promote the welfare of Mozambican children”, added Leila Pakkala.  

In Mozambique, UNICEF supports various interventions aimed at improving the conditions for the survival and healthy development of children. In collaboration with other partners, UNICEF provides technical and financial assistance to the Ministry of Health for training primary healthcare and community health workers in the integrated management of childhood illnesses, emergency obstetric care, neo-natal care, immunisation of children against preventable diseases through vaccination, and preventing malaria through the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets to households looking after vulnerable children, among other interventions.

UNICEF also supports the government in implementing a Basic Nutritional Package to prevent children at risk from being malnourished at various stages in their lives.

The Ministries of Public Works and Housing, and of Health, are working with the support of UNICEF and other partners to increase the coverage of clean drinking water and adequate sanitation, improve service delivery and reduce the incidence of water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.



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