UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham visiting the Philippines this week highlighted the situation of children all over the world who are living and working on the streets.
Visiting a UNICEF-supported centre in Manila, the football star met children aged from 7 – 17 years, who have all spent the early part of their lives living and working on the streets of towns and cities across the Philippines.
“As a Dad with young children, I can’t imagine how life was for these young children living and working on the streets. They are exposed to so many threats and dangers, and are missing out on the basics in life – having people around who love and guide them”, Beckham said after meeting some of the children.
It is estimated that 100 million children live and work on streets around the world, where they are exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation. UNICEF works to help these vulnerable children leave the streets and get back into a caring, supportive environment either with their parents, other relatives or sometimes in temporary centres.
Beckham was toured around the centre by the children themselves, and participated in sewing sessions, art classes and was entertained by an impromptu rap and dance session. Throughout it all, the children helped him learn about the reality of their lives.
“UNICEF is doing incredible work for street children in Manila. I’ve met with children that have risked horrific levels of abuse by sleeping rough, but are now safe in the UNICEF project I visited. These kids have led really tough lives but are getting back on track thanks to having a safe place to sleep, eat and play, as well as being given medical care, education and legal assistance.
“In every big city, there are children living on the streets, at risk of abuse and in need of protection. These children are forced to grow up too fast, they don’t have a childhood. UNICEF is working to give all street children everywhere the love, care and guidance they need. Simple games like football build self esteem and offers a road back to community life” said Beckham visibly touched by the children he met.
The culmination of the visit was a 20 minute football game with the centre players, where Beckham taught the children some of his famous football skills.
Conan, 17, who toured Beckham around, was just seven when he was brought to the centre. Whilst his parents are not in contact, he has since found his sister, who now visits him every three months. Conan, who is a skilled, keen footballer said, ‘I can’t believe we had such a famous footballer come and play with us – we are such a small team, with little equipment. But I feel very special now, and more determined to improve my game.’
On leaving the centre David reflected: ‘ All these children have been failed by adults in the crucial early years of their lives. I would not be where I am today without the love and support of my parents – every child deserves that, every child deserves a second chance.
“UNICEF knows that simple gifts like footballs and story books can transform a child’s life. That’s true everywhere. This Christmas, help support a vulnerable child with a life changing gift, please visit www.unicef.org.uk/inspired”
To help to transform a child’s life, buy a UNICEF Inspired Gifts this Christmas at www.unicef.org.uk/shop or by calling 0844 888 5505.
Notes: For further information contact UNICEF UK, email@example.com, +44 (0)207 375 6077 or +44 (0)207 375 6030 (24 hrs)
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk.