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UN Day: Focus on mothers

The United Nations Day will be observed on October 24. The world body was established 61 years ago, on October 24, 1945. However, celebrating the UN Day started only in 1948.

The theme for this year's event is 'Maternal Health and Well-being: A Cornerstone of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)'. Eight out of the UN MDGs focus on different aspects of human conditions, from tackling poverty and disease to improving literacy and nutrition.

One of the MDGs is to reduce the maternal mortality (women dying during childbirth) rate by three quarters, by the year 2015. Currently, over 500,000 pregnant women die each year from complications related to childbirth, and 99 per cent of them are in developing countries. This has resulted in many children being left without their mothers to take care of them.

The Day seeks to improve the lives of the world's poor, the majority of whom are in developing countries. A healthy educated mother is the centre of the efforts to raise the level of human development at local levels. A mother with access to good care during and after childbirth, knowledge of the importance of safe drinking water and nutrition, and training in the care of new-borns is ready to raise a healthy generation.

A healthy and knowledgable mother can contribute more to the better economic maintenance of a household, actively take part in her children's lives such as by encouraging them to attend school, and understand the dangers of diseases like HIV/AIDS.

This year's theme is intended to shed light on the challenges faced by mothers in the developing world, and recognise the role of mothers and families in establishing a brighter future for their communities.

World Development

Information Day

The World Development Information Day is also celebrated on October 24. It was established by the UN General Assembly in 1972 to draw the attention of the world to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them.

The Assembly decided that the date should coincide with the UN Day, which was also the date of adoption, in 1970, of the International Development Strategy for the Second United Nations Development Decade.

A visit to the Great Wall

You must have heard about the Great Wall of China which was built along the north and east of this country a long time ago. It was constructed to stop armies from other countries conquering China.

Tourists enjoying a picnic beside the Wall.

US astronauts who went to the moon had said that the Great Wall of China was the only man-made thing on Earth, which was visible from the moon. That is, without using a telescope. This is because the Great Wall is 5,660 kilometres long and very wide.

The Great Wall of China during summer. In winter, it looks totally different, with the trees shedding their leaves and snow all over the place.

Chinese kings began building the Great Wall around 700 BC and it was completed 2,200 years ago, said our guide who showed us around in China during a recent visit. The Great Wall served as a watch tower too; sentries were stationed along it to see whether armies from other countries were coming closer. The Great Wall was also a road for the Chinese army to move and shoot at other armies, who were trying to break the wall down.

Everyday, thousands of tourists from China as well as from all over the world climb the Great Wall. But, some places are difficult to climb, because the Great Wall goes up very high mountains, and down through very deep valleys. In one place, it is said that the Great Wall goes through an ocean of clouds.

In some places, the Great Wall is also a place to picnic, as you will see in this picture taken north of Beijing, which is the capital of China. In fact, the Great Wall guarded Beijing, which was where the Chinese kings lived, for many hundreds of years.

The Great Wall also has museums to remember the kings who ordered the construction of the wall, the many Chinese people who built it, sacrificing many years of their lives and the millions of Chinese workers who died in the process of building such a large and difficult structure. The Great Wall was sometimes built over their dead bodies, as the work went on.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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