Children's Day in Cambodia

This past Saturday, June 1, was Children's Day. I suppose I should have blogged about it on that day, but better late than never, right? Andrew and I attended a program at a local elementary school that has been involved in some SP programs. There were actually several elementary schools present, and different NGOs donated school supplies, drinks, water, etc. to give to the kids. The program consisted of various community leaders giving speeches, then handing out gifts to the children. The speeches all lasted about an hour and a half, and it was a bit amusing to see the kids listening to absolutely nothing being said. They were far too busy talking, fidgeting, throwing things at each other, picking their noses...pretty much like kids anywhere.

Students helping unload bottled water donated by SP

Children's Day is actually an international holiday started in 1950, and here in Cambodia, it's a national holiday. Children under the age of 18 years make up 41% of the national population, making Cambodia one of the youngest nations in Southeast Asia.

Growing up in Cambodia has never been easy, but thankfully it is getting better. The below infographic from Unicef Cambodia highlights the progress made in the past few years, yet also shows that much work is to be done to improve the lives of children growing up here. In America, we take it for granted that we can access vaccinations for our children; that they have toilets and running water; that they won't grow up stunted due to poor nutrition; or that obtaining a birth certificate or an education would never be difficult.

This infographic describes the distance from a home to the nearest health center and different levels of schools. Although the distance may not seem great, remember that in the rainy season, a kilometer across flooded roads and broken bridges could become impassable for those with a motorcycle, let alone those forced to travel on foot.

I didn't think much about Children's Day, not stopping and considering that it really should be an important day - a time for people to stop and reflect on the importance of children to families, communities, and nations. So often, across the world, children are not valued, protected, or nurtured. They are seen as replaceable assets or as insurance against helplessness in old age. Yet the Bible teaches that they are a reward and a blessing straight from God, and children will prosper only when their families, communities, and nations recognize this truth.

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