27 April 2016

Preparing for school – preparing for the future

In Nepal, UNICEF helps restore education of earthquake-affected children 

By Mallika Aryal

Kathmandu, Nepal – It is 6 a.m. in Kavresthali, a small village nearly 10 kilometres north from the city centre and 16-year-old Ranjita Bhandari has been up for over an hour. She is dressed in her school uniform – neat blue shirt with a navy blue pullover, a striped tie, a pleated navy blue skirt, black leggings and polished black shoes. She has tied her long thick hair away form her face. She is standing nervously outside her house, a small hut made of tin and tarpaulin.

Ranjita Bhandari, 16, is hugged by her mother inside their makeshift temporary shelter before she heads out to take her School Leaving Certificate (SLC), a national examination taken by Nepali students at the end of their tenth grade.
Photo by Kiran Panday for UNICEF.

Ranjita is appearing for the School Leaving Certificate, a national-level examinations all tenth graders in Nepal have to take before they graduate to the last two years of high school. This year, over 600,000 children all over Nepal are appearing for the SLC examinations, often called the ‘iron gate’.

Back on her feet, Akriti is now going to school

A young girl’s story of a new life from a near-death malnourishment

By Naresh Newar

Lalitpur, Nepal – It has been nine months since UNICEF came into four-year-old Akriti Banskota’s life. Her story is an example of how community nutrition can make a huge difference to reduce severe malnutrition in the country.
Akriti Banksota, 4, is seen with her friends inside an early childhood development (ECD) centre in Chapagaun, Lalitpur,
Photo by Narendra Shrestha for UNICEF

Akriti was identified as suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) as part of UNICEF-supported emergency nutrition program that was started in her community two months after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015.

“It feels great to hear her laughing and talking and running around,” said Kriti KC, a young health professional working with UNICEF partner Social Development Promotion Centre (SDPC). She recalls how quiet Akriti had been when she first met her.

“She was too weak to say anything or move around,” she said.

26 April 2016

In Nepal, UNICEF helps heal earthquake’s mental wounds

By Mallika Aryal

Kamala Rai (left) works in the kitchen in her makeshift temporary shelter in Nuwakot, one of the 14 most earthquake-affected districts in Nepal. Kamala lost her newborn son when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015. 
Photo by Prakash Mathema for UNICEF. 

Nuwakot, Nepal - Kamala Rai, 27, and a mother of four, had just woken up from a nap with her new born son late morning on 25 April 2015 in Charghare, Nuwakot, east of the capital Kathmandu.  Saturday is laundry day in the Rai household, so she left her sleeping baby inside the house and went out to gather her three girls so they could help her wash dirty clothes.  Suddenly, the ground started shaking violently. Her first thought was her sleeping baby inside the house. She screamed and ran inside.
“After that everything went all dark,” Kamala said, as she sat inside her makeshift home on a late winter afternoon.

Her temporary shelter has tin roof and tarpaulin for walls. The floor is cold and it is dark inside as she chops vegetables for dinner.

“When I gained consciousness at the hospital, they told me that my little baby boy was gone,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “He was taken by the earthquake.”

Following the earthquake, Kamala spent several weeks in the hospital with a head injury.

“I just didn’t feel right, I had no will to live,” she said.

Returning home provided no comfort either.

24 April 2016

Growing up at the Epicenter

In Nepal’s quake-affected village, a young mother struggles to raise her daughter born on the day of earthquake.

By Avinashi Paudel

Amita Gurung holds her 11-month-old daughter Arpita, Photo by Chandra Shekhar Karki for UNICEF.

Gorkha, Nepal- “I love my daughter the most in the whole world,” said Amita Gurung, holding her baby daughter Arpita tightly in her arms. "But when I think of the day she was born, I feel like crying."

That  was the day when a devastating earthquake shook central Nepal in April last year. Amita's village was at the epicenter of the quake.

It was a dull Saturday noon that day. Nine-month pregnant Amita was lying lazily on bed watching television. Suddenly she heard a rattling sound and heard her sister screaming ‘Earthquake!

Earthquake!’ How the heavily pregnant Amita dragged herself out of the collapsing house when the whole world seemed to be rocking still feels like a bad dream for this young mother.

In her Snan village of Barpak Village Development Committee (VDC) many people had gathered together and were retreiving foodstuff from the rubble of a village shop. A couple of hours after the earthquake, Amita felt stomach ache. She told her father-in-law about the pain, and he immediately reckoned it as labor pain. Soon enough Amita was taken inside a cowshed.

07 March 2016

International Women’s Day: 10 quick facts on girls

NEW YORK, 7 March 2015 – To mark International Women’s Day and the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on women’s empowerment, UNICEF presents a statistical snapshot of progress and trends for girls and women.

Water and sanitation
  • At least 500 million women and girls lack a private place to change their sanitary protection during menstruation. This is equivalent to every female living in developed countries. 
Child protection
  • Close to half of all girls aged 15-19 worldwide, around 126 million, think a husband is sometimes justified in hitting or beating his wife. 
  • Globally, 1 in 4 young women alive today were married in childhood versus 1 in 3 in the early 1980s. In the Middle East and North Africa, the percentage of women married before age 18 has dropped by about half during the last three decades. 
  • The overall chance that a girl will undergo Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting today is about one third lower than it was three decades ago.

10 December 2015

"Dao" and “Kanompang” from Hormones 3 series and expert speak about online safety

Sananthachat Thanapatpisal and Nichaphat Chaichaipolrat, or “Dao”  and “Kanompang” from Hormones 3: The Final Season series and Assoc. Prof. Jessada Denduangboripant, lecturer at the Faculty of Science of Chulalongkorn University, visited UNICEF to speak with young people online about the benefits social media bring to lives, and how to avoid potential risks. The talk was aired live on YouTube on 10 December 2015.

01 December 2015

Mean streets: helping adolescents at risk of HIV in Chiang Mai

Kum Poon, 14, sells sex on the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand
© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Andy Brown
Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s main tourist destinations. It also a city in which prostitution is rife. Kum Poon*, 14, sleeps rough in a park near the city’s sex district. He makes some money working for street vendors, but also sells sex to tourists and locals. Adults who exploit Kum Poon for sex violate his rights as a child and put him at grave risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

It wasn’t always this way. In 2001, Kum Poon was born in a hill tribe village outside Chiang Mai. His parents died when he was very young. For a while he was cared for by relatives, but they were too poor to look after him, so they took him to Viengping Children’s Home, where he lived until he was six. It’s a pleasant home on the edge of Chiang Mai, with fresh air, lots of open space and a large, well equipped playground.

“That was the happiest time in my life,” Kum Poon recalls. “I was still young and had no burdens or difficulties in my life. I used to play games, climb trees and draw pictures of flowers. The teachers were kind to me.”

30 November 2015

Location, location: how mobile dating apps are driving an increase in adolescent HIV

Nest (right) and friend Jesse look at gay dating apps on a smart phone
© UNICEF EAPRO/2015/Andy Brown
Nest is a 19-year-old gay teenager living in Bangkok. Like many other adolescents, he uses mobile apps such as Grindr to meet up for dates. “I use apps to meet other guys nearby,” he says. “I don’t like to have sex at the first meeting, I prefer to chat and get to know the person first. But some of my friends just meet up for sex.”

According to a new report, ‘Adolescents: Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response’, the region is facing a ‘hidden epidemic’ of HIV among adolescents. Published by the Asia-Pacific Inter-Agency Task Team for Young Key Populations, including UNICEF, the report shows that although new HIV infections are falling overall, they are rising among at-risk adolescents. There are now at least 210,000 adolescents living with HIV in the region, with big cities like Bangkok and Hong Kong hubs of new infections.

31 October 2015

Bringing books to children in remote areas

Story by Heamakarn Sricharatchanya / Video by Metee Thuentap

This story was published in Bangkok Post newspaper on 31 October 2015 

Mae Hong Son, 31 October 2015 Today is a special day for Apisit Sripornlumlert and his friends at Ban Huay Pueng school, which nestles between towering mountains in Mae La Noi district, in the northern Thailand province of Mae Hong Son. It is the day the mobile library is coming to their school, bringing them more than 1,200 children’s books.

23 August 2015

Small schools and quality education

By Hugh Delaney

With only 72 students, Noen Wiang in Nakhon Sawan Province is a small school. That’s not exceptional in Thailand, where over 50% of schools fall into the small school category – defined as having less than 120 students. With a declining population, the number of small schools in Thailand is expected to increase over the coming years, with most small schools located in rural areas.

Kindergarten children learning about shapes and sizes
Prapaphak Jadjan has been Director of Noen Wiang for ten years, and with a teaching staff of only four, she has in the past struggled to provide quality teaching across all grades from Kindergarten through to sixth grade.