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Report from Seoul Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Ha Thi Lan Anh, Canada Dec 28, 2002
Human Rights   Opinions
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From 9th to 13th December 2002 in Seoul,Korea,the representatives of children from 15 countries including Cambodia, China, East Timor, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam met at the 3rd East Asia and Pacific Regional Children and Young People’s Forum to discuss the outcomes of the United Nations Special Session on Children,report on current status and reflect the progress of National Plan of Actions in their countries, plan and strategize mechanism as well as concrete proposals for effective child participation in the process taking forward the Special session.

The Vietnam Delegation brought to the forum 4 representatives from diverse backgrounds and locations of Vietnam.They were chosen based on their understanding and active involvement in the process leading up to UNGASS and current involvement in taking furthur outcomes and action implementation follow up UNGASS.Ha Thi Lan Anh and Nguyen Chau Thuy Trang were Ngos and governmental delegates at Children’s Forum and UNGASS.Nguyen Hoai Thu and Vu Thanh Ha,first time participants at an international forum, are active child rights advocators.All of the four girls are also youth broadcast,photographer and writer from Young Journalists Group (also known as Junior Reporters Club) of Radio Voice of Vietnam,PhotoVoice and Young Pioneer Newspaper who are using media as a creative tool to promote child rights and child participation.

This report will cover their day by day activities at the recent children and young people’s forum in Seoul.
We reached Incheon Airport in the morning.There were already groups from Laos,Indonesia, Thai who arrived earlier waiting for us .Lan Anh anh Trang were immediately recognized by old fellows at UNGASS.Despite all tiresome and jet lag,the children quickly started ice-breaking,getting to know one another while waiting for the bus to pick us up.A corner of Incheon Airport was soon filled with lots of laughters and hellos in different languages.

Minus 4 celcious degree Seoul welcomed us with festive white snow!! The children mostly from tropical,island and warmer corners of the globe were freezing yet very excited. We checked in at Yonsei University Guesthouse , our sleeping nest,informal and chill out center for the rest of the week. Delegations from 15 countries,in their thickest and warmest clothes ready to bear and enjoy colder Korea,walked to Jessica’s Pizzeria and were served a tasty Italian lunch while still being curious “whats kimchi?”

In the afternoon, responding to the children’s appeal, the organizers generously offered us a Seoul Tour.We went to visit old castles of famous Korean King Choseon, climbed up to Namson Mountain and enjoyed the magnificent view from the skyline of the land of morning calm covered by snow.During the tour,countries were grouped together (Vietnam were grouped with Phillipines),which gave us good chance to make people feel comfortable about each other.

The children could,finally,tasted the famous Korean Kimchi at dinner at Angel’s Heaven. Angel’s Haven is a social welfare society for disabled and orphan children.It was established in 1953 after the Korean War by Mr.Sung Yul Yoon with the aim to improve the lives for abandoned and suffering children and disabled persons.Angel’s Heaven is accredited with the United Nations as an Ngo in partnership with Unicef and was invited to UNGASS Prepcomps. Accompanying three Korean children, the Director and kindered spirit Mr Kyu Hwan Cho came to UNGASS Prepcom 2 and 3. Being dedicated to the development and participation of children, Mr Cho and Angel’s Heaven offered Unicef and World Vision help in logistical organization and provided us with a great meeting space where we felt truly welcomed,safe and comfortable to discuss our issues in a free,fun and child-friendly environment.
Our first night at Angel’s heaven marked a fun and interesting orientation session led by the facilitator team including Lakan-a Phillipino teacher and artist,Fei- a Maylaysian X-fresh online teen community worker,Ariel,John Paul and Davakhuu UNGASS fellows from China,Phillipines and Mongolia. Each delegation were free to use their dancing and musical talents to create unique introductions of their country in the “getting –to-know” part. Then we moved on to the expectation check toward the forum.Some of the main expectations of the children toward the rest of the week were to learn more about children’s rights and UNGASS process,to network with child advocators in other countries,to learn skills to carry out projects and last but not least to make new friends!! To make the forum process an effective one,the children set up a Forum’s rules where they asked each participant to be responsible,to be fully involved,be respective,supportive and cooperative with one another so as everyone could participate equally and effectively regardless of languages, ages and previous international experiences.Everything looked very promising.Everyone was tired but excited.

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