The United Nations in Bangkok commemorated the 20th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in collaboration with the Government of Thailand and the International Movement ATD Fourth World. A series of events took place inside and outside the UN compound between 09.00 a.m. and 13.00 p.m.
The day started with a lion dance performance by a group of homeless people living under Arun Amarin Bridge in Bangkok. Learning how to perform Singto not only gave them a new source of income, but also a focus in life, self-confidence and a sense of belonging to the community.
In her address, Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP emphasized that “Listening is a first step towards recognition of the poor as agents of change, yet in itself it is not sufficient. To be agents of change, the poor need to be empowered so that they can make choices and can live a life with dignity, where basic needs become basic rights.”
In her key note statement, H.E. Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan, Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office highlighted the Royal Thai Government poverty eradication initiatives that emphasized community development, social inclusion and well-being.
Echoing this year’s theme, representatives from several vulnerable communities gave testimonies on their lives, their daily struggles out of poverty and their hopes and dreams for the future.
The local winners of the United Nations International Children’s Art Competition received, together with the children of the vulnerable communities, a token of appreciation for their contribution. The winning designs from the Asia Pacific Region were exhibited at the UNCC lobby.
As part of the commemorations, over 1000 people including celebrities, community and youth representatives, UN staff and Thai government officials joined the global “Stand Up and Speak Out Against Poverty and for the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals Campaign” outside the UN compound on Makkawan bridge. Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, H.E. Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan, and Ms. Gwi-Yeop Son, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, called on leaders from both rich and poor countries to honour their promises to meet the Millennium Development Goals and pledged to keep the Campaign to end extreme poverty at the heart of their work.
The commemoration ended with the first ever screening in Thailand of the award-winning feature documentary “Buddha’s Lost Children” by Mark Verkerk. It tells the story of the unconventional monk and former Thai boxing champion Phra Khru Bah and the novices under his care. “Buddha’s Lost Children” is the story of the difference that one inspired person can make in giving children living in poverty self-confidence, hope and a future.