A Day for Children, by Children

On Children’s Day 2022, the Government of Lao PDR, UNICEF, KOICA, and children united to promote child rights and welfare under the theme “A Better Future for Every Child” in Attapeu Province.

Karen Ho
UNICEF Laos/2022
06 July 2022

As the morning light shone down on Samakkhixay district, hundreds of people in purple shirts gathered at the Kaysone Memorial Park. It was International Children’s Day, which children and youths had been preparing for over the past three days.

Since 1 June was also the National Tree Planting Day, the National Commission for the Advancement of Women and Mothers and Children (NCAWMC) arranged a tree planting activity to commemorate both occasions. Two children were assigned to support H.E. Mme. Inlavanh Keobounphanh, President of the Lao Women's Union and Vice-Chair of NCAWMC in watering the planted seedling. They seemed a bit worried in the beginning but a warm smile from Mme. Inlavanh eased their nervousness. A total of 11 trees were planted by the delegation, including H.E. Leth Xayaphone, Attapeu Provincial Governor, H.E. Bounseuth Setthilat, Attapeu Vice Provincial Governor, Mr. Gweonhyeok Ko, KOICA Programme Manager and Mr. David Ducan, Deputy Representative a.i. of UNICEF.

The main event of the day was an official ceremony at the Attapeu Provincial Convention Hall.

Lah was nominated by her teacher to be one of the 39 youth representatives for the Children’s Day event. With support from NCAWMC and trainers, Lah and her peers prepared for different activities of the official ceremony. She volunteered to participate in the presentation and Lao dance based on her interest in youth issues and traditional culture, while other representatives joined theatrical play, singing, drawing, costume show and video production groups respectively.

“I believe it is important for young people to share our perspectives. Children’s Day provides a great opportunity to shed light on important issues affecting us and in Attapeu, one of the most pressing issues is child marriage.” Lah said. Together with her friend Noi and two other youth representatives, the group delivered a five minute presentation on the challenges of child marriage and proposed solutions.

“We need to raise awareness on the benefits of delaying marriage among children, parents, and communities. This way, they would understand the importance for children to continue their education,”

Noi added, as she recalled the Life Skills Training on Job Readiness she joined earlier this year. The training boosted her communication skills among others, and she wished more young people could take part in it.

After the presentation, the children showed a short video about life in Attapeu which they produced over the past week. They also performed the song “Beautiful Laos”, the play “Flower under the Shadow” and presented a drawing on “Dream Job”.

Children dancing
UNICEF Laos/2022
Children’s performance during the official Children’s Day ceremony in Attapeu province

With the “Attapeu Song” being played, all 39 youth representatives walked up to the stage in different traditional costumes, including Lao, Ta-oi, Brua, Makong, and Tailiang clothings to showcase the rich and diverse culture in Attapeu province. The children and youths were proud of the beautiful fabric and were happy to share their cultural roots. A big round of applause from more than 400 guests wrapped up the performances of the day.

"I never imagined I would be part of such a successful event. It is a remarkable experience,” Lah said.

She also thanked NCAWMC, UNICEF, and everyone who made this event possible. Over the past week, all the youth representatives from various districts had spent much time brainstorming, discussing and rehearsing for this event. There were times when they felt overwhelmed, but with support from friends and the trainers, they managed to overcome those challenges.

“The Attapeu youths are very talented. It is my first time seeing such a grand event in Attapeu. Me and my team are very impressed, we have learned a lot from the children and youths in just one day,” said Mr. Gweonhyeok Ko, KOICA Programme Manager.

The Children’s Day events in Attapeu province took place from 29 May – 1 June 2022. They were organised by NCAWMC and children and youths in Attapeu province, with support from UNICEF and the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) as part of the “Integrated Programme for Climate Resilience and Empowerment of Attapeu – Child Protection”. Implemented since 2019, this programme aims to strengthen the provincial child protection system to improve child protection service delivery and empower adolescent girls and boys to effectively prevent protection risks.

For more information about the programme, click here.