Vientiane, 25 October 2017
What comes to your mind when you hear of the United Nations? High-level meetings where world leaders come together to discuss global security issues? Peace-keeping operations in conflict zones? Humanitarian aid in areas hit by disasters?
Vientiane secondary school children found out that the UN is more than that. They learned that the UN is close, in their city, with many employees being members of the local community. During the Open UN House event, organised on the occasion of United Nations Day on 24 October, the UN in Lao PDR invited 150 Lao school children from four schools around the capital to find out more about the UN and its work.
Photo: UN in Lao PDR/Katia Gruetter
UN House, next to Patuxay landmark and That Foun Temple is home to 12 United Nations agencies. Southeast Asia’s oldest acacia tree majestically presides over its garden, revered by locals and internationals alike. Combining traditions of the past with new, sustainable technologies, UN House is partly powered by solar panels with the renewable energy of sunrays.
Upon arrival, the children each received a mockup UN passport and slipped into the role of the UN’s leader, the Secretary-General, when they had their passport photo taken. Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator, extended a warm welcome and emphasised: “It is the young people who will be moving into the driving roles of this country, ensuring we reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the world collectively committed to, by 2030.”
Guided tours took the young visitors in groups to many stations around the UN House. At each of these stations, they received a different stamp into their passport and learned about various UN agencies’ work in Lao PDR around health, nutrition, migration, child labour, gender equality, UXO clearance, illicit drugs, environmental protection and governance.
Photo: UN in Lao PDR/Kara Tam
“I loved the activities around health and personal hygiene, and it was great to watch the Virtual Reality film about UXO. I heard unexploded ordnance is a big problem in Laos, so I wanted to understand more about it, and the film explained it well,” said student Cho Sengvixay, 13, from Houayhom school.
The UN team working in the country supports the Government of Lao PDR with a joint agenda and the implementation of national priorities towards graduation from Least Developed Country status. The UN family values partnerships and is open to synergies with development partners, the private sector and civil society.
“Our students were inspired by these creative ways displaying the important work the UN is doing in our country. Today has been capacity development at its best, both for us accompanying teachers, and the children. The visit to UN House was beyond our expectations. Some of my students may now consider the UN as a future place of employment,” said teacher Senakhone Thamavong of Phonthong school.
Ms. Ildiko Hamos-Sohlo
Communications Specialist, UN in Lao PDR
Tel.: 021 267 778
Mobile: 020 7717 7913