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A smile for all children

June 1st, 2012

Photorapher: Kiril Vulchev

Today many European countries celebrate International Children’s Day. Children are the most precious asset for all families and all countries – and let me use this occasion to wish a happy and healthy childhood to all kids.

Unfortunately, there are children in the world today who don’t have a happy and healthy childhood and whose future – if there is future at all – may not be bright. Among them are the children of the Sahel region in Africa, more than a million of whom are in risk of severe malnutrition.

These kids were the focus of the exhibition “The Children of Sahel” with which I marked Children’s Day in Bulgaria. The photos there were taken by the Bulgarian journalist Kiril Valchev, who joined me on my trip to the Sahel region earlier this year. His camera documented the terrible impact of hunger on the most vulnerable – kids.

I am glad that with these photos and the accompanying text we can make more people aware of the suffering of the children of the Sahel and of the need to help them. But I am also glad that these images do not show hopelessness – they show hope.

My favourite photo in the exhibition shows a child that is different from the others – he is smiling. He holds a football and I remember how happy he was when he got it during our visit. This image is a reminder that sometimes very little is needed to bring the smile back on a kid’s face. And that in our interconnected world, we can all benefit if all children, everywhere – have more opportunities to smile.

You are welcome to see the exhibition too – it will be in Sofia’s Zaimov Park, outside of Theatre Sofia, until June 10.

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