UNICEF Hong Kong Young Envoys’ Field Diaries
A team of 10 Young Envoys visited the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum (on photo) during July 22-27, while a team of 15 Young Envoys visited northern Dien Bien province. UNICEF/Viet Nam/2012/Ly Phat Linh
Ha Noi, August 7, 2012 - A team of 25 Young Envoys from UNICEF Hong Kong visited Ha Noi and Dien Bien and Kon Tum provinces in Viet Nam from July 22-27 to better understand the challenges to children's well-being, and UNICEF’s response to these. The two provinces are among Viet Nam’s poorest, with a poverty rate of nearly 40 per cent in Dien Bien and 27 per cent in Kon Tum. A majority of Dien Bien’s 490,000 residents are ethnic minority people, as are more than half of Kon Tum’s 430,000 population. The UNICEF Hong Kong Young Envoy programme, launched in 1996, is a leadership training programme especially designed for secondary school students to become future pillars of society and advocates for child rights. Below are 17-year-old Julia Zschiesche and 14-year-old Felix Tam Chun-Yan’s “field diaries” from their time in Kon Tum Province.
23 July: Ha Noi
Felix Tam Chun-Yan: “The Buddhist Leadership Initiative: More than technology, we need humanity”
Felix Tam Chun-Yan enjoyed an inspirational visit to Kon Tum Province’s social protection centre. UNICEF/Viet Nam/2012/Ly Phat Linh
Buddhism is said to be a mystery in many foreigner’s eyes. Yet, when I stepped into one of the seven pagodas in Viet Nam where UNICEF supports Buddhist monks and nuns to provide support and care to children and their families affected by HIV and AIDS, I could only see the core principle of Buddhism – “love and care”. We [the UNICEF Young Envoys from Hong Kong] were invited to sit in the main hall as a highly respected monk, sitting next to a family impacted on by HIV/AIDS, delivered a speech. The speech was related to the Buddhist Leadership Initiative, a project introduced by UNICEF in 2003, to reduce stigma and discrimination towards people infected by HIV and AIDS. In my mind, the project is undoubtedly meaningful and inspirational. To emphasise this point, as the monks and nuns talked to the children, I saw numerous smiles and heard laughter. These confident faces spoke volumes for UNICEF’s success in giving them full and comprehensive psychological support. The closeness of their relationship was obvious and it was interesting to see few of them using electronic devices like smart phones. Instead, their bonding was built on real-time interaction. It reminded me of a motto: “More than machinery we need humanity, more than technology we need sincerity. Sometimes we think too much, but feel too little.” It’s time for me to change my lifestyle and reconnect with the real world.
24 July: Kon Tum
Julia Zschiesche: An afternoon at a social protection centre in Kon Tum
Julia Zschiesche helps out during her visit to the Kon Tum social protection centre. UNICEF/Viet Nam/2012/Ly Phat Linh
Kon Tum’s social protection centre
A little boy