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Malaysian boy's aquathalon raises RM 25,000 for children of Myanmar’s Cyclone Nargis

© UNICEF Malaysia/2008/Nadchatram
Thirteen year old Tristan Lim runs 8km to raise funds for children who survived Myanmar's Cyclone Nargis. His school mates from The Alice Smith School join him in a show of solidarity and encouragement.

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 June 2008 – He is only thirteen years old, yet, Malaysia’s Tristan Lim Yang-Jun decided that his age was not going to be a barrier to helping his peers in Myanmar struggling to survive the devastation of Cyclone Nargis.

“I wanted to do this mainly because I’ve been to Myanmar and the people there were so nice. I also feel sorry for what they have lost, and I have everything I need here; my parents and a good education. They lost everything in a split second,” said Tristan, a year eight student at The Alice Smith School in Selangor.

With the help of his parents Huan and Angela Lim, young Tristan who loves sport used 2 hours on 2 June to swim 3.2km followed by an 8km run to raise pledges from some 166 donors comprising school mates, teachers, family friends and his community. 

Reinforcing the value of youth participation

© UNICEF Malaysia/2008/Nadchatram
Tristan Lim felt compelled to help the people of Myanmar having personally experienced their kindness during a trip to the country when he was 7 years old.

Tristan’s determination earned him the satisfaction of raising RM 25,000, which he handed to UNICEF Malaysia’s Representative Mr. Youssouf Oomar during a school assembly today.  

“Through the example set by Tristan, it is very clear that young people can play an important role simply by participating. Not necessarily coming out with money or giving in-kind, but being together. We want to continue reinforcing the value of participation to allow young people to express themselves as Tristan did,” said Mr. Youssouf. “He has expressed solidarity to his friends in Myanmar who are in very difficult living conditions.”

Echoing UNICEF’s support for youth participation, The Alice Smith School Principal Mr. Richard Dyer expressed his pride in Tristan’s efforts, stressing the importance of schooling that nurtures responsibility, maturity and compassion in young people.

“With privilege comes responsibility, and Tristan has acted upon that responsibility with compassion and maturity.  He has not only taken steps to raise money, but enrolled many people in his efforts through sponsorship.  We are extremely proud of Tristan – he is an example to us all,” said Mr. Dyer.

Restoring education in Myanmar

Tristan’s efforts will help UNICEF with its work in Myanmar to rebuild lives affected by the cyclone. With more than 4,000 basic schools damaged or totally destroyed, affecting some 1.1 million children, restoring education is a key priority for UNICEF and its partners.

Across the cyclone-affected areas of Myanmar, UNICEF is providing 100,000 essential learning packages for affected children, text books for 150,000 children, 2,000 school kits for affected schools, and 200,000 roofing sheets and construction kits for repairing schools.  At the same time, UNICEF will distribute non-formal education kits to 3,000 out-of-school children affected by the disaster.

UNICEF will also provide tents, tarpaulins and support the establishment of at least 1,000 temporary safe learning spaces. Sites for the temporary learning spaces are determined by the schools and communities.

Catering for the very young

To support children’s psychosocial needs, the “Let’s Read Initiative” children’s books that UNICEF produced in 2006 to help build children’s resiliency will be reprinted and distributed to all grades in affected schools.

According to Mr. Youssouf, the very young are also catered to in UNICEF’s Back-to-School initiative.

“Through our NGO partners, UNICEF is also supporting early childhood development (ECD) centres and caregiver circles by distributing early childhood development kits. The caregiver circles are designed for children under the age of three and their families by providing early stimulation and care, feeding and parenting programs. ECD centres cater for the early learning and development of children aged three to five,” said Mr. Youssouf.

To-date, the Myanmar Children’s Cyclone Appeal 2008 has raised close to RM 530,000 in Malaysia since its launch on 13 May.



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