26 September 2013

Certificate ceremoney for UNICEF Youth Mediactivist Volunteers for WASH

"Volunteerism is the noble commitment to humanity," commented one of the Youth Mediactivists when asked why he volunteered to pack 6000 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) packets for UNICEF's WASH program.

UNICEF Youth Mediactivists for WASH with Isabelle Austin, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Pacific
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Choi

24 September 2013

"Welcome to the Heroic Delegation of Tuvalu"

On the 20th of September, the delegation from Tuvalu submitted to a formal review of their initial report on how Tuvalu was implementing the provisions of the Conventions of the Rights of the Child (CRC). The review was conducted by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland via videolink from UNICEF Pacific's head office in Suva, Fiji.

Tuvalu's first CRC review via Videolink from UNICEF Pacific's head office in Suva, Fiji
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Choi

22 September 2013

Cyber Bullying: Behind the Screens

Cyber bullying is a new form of an old problem. Today, as many young people have access to mobile phones and the internet, bullying no longer happens face to face - it happens online, behind the screens, but with real life consequences. 

Read about the shocking realities of cyber bullying, happening right now in Fiji, brought to you by Talei, 14, a UNICEF Youth Mediactivist writing for September's issue of Mailife Magazine.

click on the image to view full article

12 September 2013

Luxury latrines, VIP latrines and an active volcano

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

My family did a lot of camping in East Africa when my kids were young… camping with no facilities except what we did for ourselves. This included giving a spade to our kids and telling them to dig, relieve themselves, then cover it up – the no latrine option. On one trip to watch rally car teams race around off-track, fundraising for rhino preservation, my ten year old daughter was fascinated to observe different camping arrangements. She came back to our camp site and complained, “Why can’t we do luxury camping?” “What is that?” I asked, genuinely puzzled what she could have seen amongst a bunch of rally car drivers and fans in the Kenya outback. “A latrine with canvas walls and a pot to sit on,” came the answer. She defined luxury in terms other people would find basic.

11 September 2013

Mother of all challenges: Clean water on top of Tanna's steep volcanic mountains

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

Side by side pumps in action
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen
I have seen a lot of challenges during my 35 year career in Africa and Asia…but this was a new one for me: how to bring clean water to communities that live on top of steep volcanic mountains, in extremely dense, humid vegetation, but with near constant spewing of volcanic ash from an active volcano.

10 September 2013

Birth registrations: The right to be recognised

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

Registering a newborn
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen

The right to citizenship- something many take for granted - is a right not realised by children whose births are never registered. The people of Vanuatu – the Ni-Vanuatu – only achieved independence 33 years ago, and prior to that existed under a uniquely inefficient and rights-denying “Condominium” that consisted of parallel British and French rule.

09 September 2013

The "software" and the "hardware" of immunisation

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

Baby receiving BCG Vaccine
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen
With a history of both British and French influence, the Government of Vanuatu is facing a challenging language legacy involving curricula, information and training having to be made available in Bislama, French as well as in English.

08 September 2013

Breast is best: maternal and child health in Vanuatu.

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

Karen Allen with two mothers at the Tanna Health Clinic
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen
5:30 am start this morning from Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, for a 6:00 am flight on a 20 seat Harbin Y12 Propeller to Tanna. There is the usual friendly bustle of passengers taping and tying up their luggage bundles, and asking other passengers to carry some of their overweight pieces. A Canadian doctor who rushed over last night with a medical evacuation case begs for a seat to return so she can do her dispensary visits today. We stand by to carry some medical supplies in case she cannot get on, but at the last minutes she does. I love the peace and beauty of flying over the vast expanse of Pacific Ocean, but I reflect on the difficulties of bringing health and social services to such a widely distributed population. Vanuatu is "only" 83 islands; the distance between the two outermost islands is 1300 kilometres.

07 September 2013

Ending violence in Paradise

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

Wan Smol Bag youth theater wall
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen
I visited Vanuatu this week  –surely a top runner in any contest for paradise on earth. Everywhere I go there is a beautiful vista – blue lagoons and ocean, sunny sky, stunning waterfalls and clear pools in lush and verdant forests.

05 September 2013

Removing the "dis" from ability

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

School for Disabled Children in Tarawa performed songs and dances with great glee.
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen
Facilities are simple but school spirit is high at the School for Disabled Children in Tarawa. Each of the classrooms has caring teachers, and each class is carefully organised according to needs and learning levels of children. There is so much demand, that one class of older children, is in a rough storage shelter, but this does not dim the enthusiasm of the visually impaired and mute learners, who, I discovered, are very good artists. In other classrooms children were learning to read and type in Braille, singing songs, working out math problems, and learning how to get maximum use of legs and arms affected by cerebral palsy. Every child gets a nourishing meal, every school day, and there are health screening visits, too. Sadly, sometimes they reveal abuse.

Toilet innovations - the Kiribati way!

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

Improved latrine with ashes, cover, soap and water
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Allen
We all do it, and some of us do it in the wrong place. In Kiribati, 40% of households defecate in the open and handwashing with clean water and soap is uncommon. Diarrheal deaths contribute significantly to the high under five mortality rate in Kiribati and morbidity from diarrhoea can compromise nutritional status and early childhood development. In my opinion, one of UNICEF's best programmes worldwide is Community Led Total Sanitation, which facilitates people to achieve a community environment free from open defecation, using local ideas, and appropriate technologies.

02 September 2013

Safe haven for abuse victims of Kiribati

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative
Welcome cake and song by on of the nuns in the women's crisis centre
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Teannaki

The world can be a cruel place. Women and children in particular are victims of domestic violence and other abuse. We can thank a singing nun in Kiribati that they have a place to go to for help. A group of Catholic nuns runs the Crisis Management Centre, with support from various partners including UNICEF. A clean dormitory, with mattresses on the ground and a communal kitchen, a small yard and a children's room, and, importantly, a room for prayer and counselling make up the crisis centre.

Talking about the bees and birds in Kiribati

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative

The Kiribati Family Health Association youth group with Karen Allen
UNICEF Pacific Representative and UNICEF Colleague
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Teannaki

The Kiribati Family Health Association is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation affiliated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation. They are also supported by UNICEF for HIV and AIDS testing, counselling and prevention. After touring the modest but very well organised facilities and meeting some of the 11 service providers, I had great fun watching the peer educators demonstrate their infotainment routines.

01 September 2013

Policing Kiribati in a child friendly way

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative
Karen Allen with a UN colleague and community police officers
© UNICEF Pacific/2013/Teannak
Child friendly learning, baby-friendly hospitals, even child-friendly municipalities... I know about all these. In Tarawa UNICEF has trained the entire police force of Kiribati on a child friendly protocol, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and how, when and where to make referrals. Of course, it is a small country, and the police force is about 400 officers - nevertheless, I can say that here is a whole country with a child friendly police force!

Kiribati's Baby Friendly hospital making a difference

By Karen Allen, UNICEF Pacific Representative
Tabera 26 breastfeeding her four-month-old son Tekea at home
© UNICEF Pacific/2006/Pirozzi
There are three hospitals in the nation of Kiribati, and the main referral hospital is Tungaro. This is the first of three to achieve certification of being "Baby Friendly" - a set of standards to ensure newborns are well cared for and mothers encouraged to breastfeed. The Antenatal Care Clinic is simple. It is clean and staffed by bright and caring staff.