Sparc, UNIC celebrate Mandela Day with street children
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| 7/19/2017 12:00:00 AM
ISLAMABAD: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) and the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) celebrated Nelson Mandela International Day with street children on Tuesday in order to commemorate Mandela`s his dedication towards the protection of human rights and social justice.

Some 40 children from Sparc`s centres for street children in Rawalpindi and Islamabad were invited to spend a day filled with various activities which included interactive sessions with UN officials, face painting, games and stories from Mandela`s life and achievements. UN volunteers also distributed food and gifts among the children.

Ghulam Abbas, a 13-year-old boy from Rawalpindi, said he was pleased to be spending a fun-filled day with his friends.

`I am very happy that my friends and I got a chance to come to Islamabad and have fun here, he said. When asked what he learnt about Mandela, he said: `He was a nice man and used to help the poor`.

Javeria Amjad was participating in the activities along with her three siblings.

`Our parents cannot afford to send us to schools but this Sparc school is free and they also give us free lunch every day. I am learning how to write in Urdu and English,` she told Dawn.

Every day, Nelson Mandela day is observed by spending 67 minutes on a social cause to honour Mandela`s 67 years of service to humanity. This year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has dedicated the year to `Action Against Poverty` in honour of his devotion towards fighting poverty.

Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner of South Africa, Mpendulo Jele said: `Today is Nelson Mandela`s birthday and on his 90th birthday in 2008, he called on the leaders of all nations to change the world to a better place.

`He used the famous words `It`s in your hands now`. Today, as we celebrate Nelson Mandela Day, we remain mindful of his words and of the great responsibility that he has left for us` UNIC Director Vittorio Cammarota said: `Nelson Mandela`s lifelong engagement for children`s rights is an inspiration for all of us and for generations to come. We are happy to pay tribute to Mandela`s legacy by sharing our time with unprivileged children.

Sparc Executive Director Sadia Hussein said there are an estimated 13,000 street children in Islamabad alone and that some 1.2 million to 1.5 million children are on the streets of Pakistan`s major cities and urban centres. She said these children constitute the most vulnerable sections ofsociety and are denied basicrights such as access to shelter, education and healthcare, all the while being at risk of exploitation and trafficking. Asma Kundi