November 20 is Universal Children’s Day which promotes and celebrates children’s rights.
Article 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states “the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.”
However, hundreds of millions of children today live in urban slums, many without access to basic services. It is estimated that by 2020 the global slum population will reach 1.4 billion, mainly in Africa and Asia. Poor living conditions are among the most pervasive violations of children’s rights.
Substandard housing with inadequate access to water and sanitation, place inhabitants’ health at risk and makes them more vulnerable to disease outbreaks. In fact, 1.8 million people die every year due to diarrhoea and other diseases related to unclean water, with children mostly under five years of age falling victim.
But with a safe and decent home, children have a solid foundation for the future. Healthy homes, with cement floors, better ventilation, clean water and improved sanitation facilities have immediate health benefits. In addition, children with a safe, dry and clean place to call home can regularly attend school and have a place to study and learn which paves the way for a brighter future.
Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbours, but the conditions so many families live in could not be further apart. Subadi is a father of three – and like all fathers, desires nothing more than ensuring his family is safe. Before his new home was built, Subadi’s home had no toilet and the roof leaked when it rained. The small income he earned as a labourer was just enough to provide a small, one bedroom house for his three daughters.
Although Subadi’s daughters attended a local school, their living conditions back then made it almost impossible to study. With only a dirt floor and no electricity, the sisters had to take turns doing their homework on a section of the wall where natural light would creep in.
“But when we heard the drip drops of the rain, my children would scramble to move their books so they could continue studying and not get their work or themselves wet,” said Subadi.
Thankfully, Subadi and his family now have a home to call their own.
“It feels like a dream” said Subadi on moving into his new home. “I am very thankful and grateful to the people who helped me build this
house…The house will ease the load for us and will help give our children a good education.”
In Australia, we don’t think twice about the simple act of flicking on a light switch to illuminate our homes. No child should have to live, study and play in these circumstances.
Simple changes like concrete flooring reduces parasite infestations and boosts children’s cognitive abilities. A safe home also means a clean, dry and well-lit place for children to do their homework, less illness so fewer school days are missed and provides a clear path to a better future.
Sapudi’s new home
This Universal Children’s Day, we’d like to thank you on behalf of families like Subadi’s for enabling more children to access safe and stable homes. Thanks to you, more children around the world have a place where they feel nourished, secure and have access to basic facilities.
Find out more: