Wednesday, November 20, 2013

PM Kamla's message for Universal Children's Day

Fellow citizens, I am pleased to join national and international communities in commemorating Universal Children’s Day, celebrated on November 20, 2013. 

The purpose of this most significant day in the United Nations’ Calendar is to make children happy, promote togetherness, acknowledge an understanding of young people’s rights, and show respect for all children. Most importantly, this day was established to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world’s children.

On November 20, 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and, thirty years later, on the same day, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed. 

These two very important documents – founded on respect for the dignity and worth of every individual – consist of basic rights such as the right of every child to be nurtured; to be given a requisite for normal development; and to be helped and protected against exploitation. They also detail that fact that all children are entitled to protection and care, regardless of race, colour, gender, language or religion.

Universal Children’s Day is not simply a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness of children around the globe who are victims of violence, abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. Sadly, we are all aware of the fact that children, in some countries, are used as labourers and are immersed in armed conflicts, child prostitution and pornography.

It is startling and heart-wrenching to know that currently there are about 153 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 who are forced into child labour. As an international community we must not allow this to continue. 

It is unconscionable that the world’s most vulnerable and innocent citizens can be subjected to these inhumane acts. We must put an end to these evils perpetrated on our children and do our part in making this world a place where children are truly welcomed, loved, and protected; a place in which they can thrive and realize their fullest potential in an environment conducive to creativity, security, and well-being.

I wish to echo the words of former President of South Africa, and living legend, Nelson Mandela, in saying that “Children are our greatest treasure. They are our future.”

Therefore, Universal Children’s Day should be used as a day to acknowledge that all our children are important members of society who need security, opportunities to grow to their full potential, and to help make a better and safer world for them.

I wish to state that my government is uncompromising in its quest to provide the requisite care and protection for all our nation’s children. Work on the Children’s Hospital in Couva has started and we expect to complete construction in March 2015. Additionally, more schools are being built and/or refurbished to assist in the quality education of our children and to provide a safe learning environment for them.

I also wish to state that, to date, a total of eighty six (86) children have benefitted from the Children’s Life Fund at a cost of TT$23.3m. Through this fund, children who are in need of overseas specialist medical treatment for any life-threatening illness, and, who meet the established criteria, will be given the chance at life.

These are but some of the things that the government is doing to for the children of our nation and we are committed to doing much more. These important on-going concerns must be critical parts of our National Conversation as we, together, strive to enhance our overall national development.

Let us always keep in mind that children are a source of life, creativity, love, and warmth us and to the world. Every one of us, parents especially, must take the opportunity to spend time with [our] children and to make them feel happy and special.

On this occasion of Universal Children’s Day, as Prime Minister, and as a mother, I encourage you to hold your children close, hug them, tell them how much they are loved, and assure them of your love and protection. Together we can make this world a better place for all of them and assure them of a future filled with hope and positive infinite possibilities.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai