International Children's Day 2019

Keeping It Green: Abigail Subrath, 7, stands next to Chaguanas mayor Gopaul Boodhan, third left, during the planting of a tree to commemorate International Children's Day at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation on Wednesday (November 20). Photo: DONSTAN BONN

“Every child has the right to be born, cared for and live in a family. The right to food, water, clothing, shelter and healthcare. The right to a proper education, the right to be protected from abuse and neglect, and the right to be heard. Every child also has the right to play.”

That was part of the message seven-year-old Abigail Subrath shared with her peers on Wednesday, during a tree planting ceremony at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation in commemoration of International Children’s Day.

Stating that children all over the world are able to live better lives because of these rights, Subrath told her attentive audience that no one can take these rights from them as they form part of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.

“There are 54 rights of a child under the UN Convention which have been agreed to by most countries around the world. It’s time for every child all around the world to have these rights.

“This year is a special year as it marks 30 years of these rights granted to children. Because of these rights, there has been more than a 50 per cent reduction in child deaths and child malnourishment, and 2.6 billion children have clean drinking water,” Subrath said.

She told her peers that if they wanted to know more about these rights they can ask their parents to assist them in searching out the 54 rights of a child.

Subrath, co-founder Abbytopia of Hope, an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO), also spoke on the importance of reducing plastic pollution and creating a sustainable environment.

“I formed Abbytopia of Hope together with my mother. We are a non-profit organization that educates children on marine life conservation and how to reduce pollution. We also assist less fortunate families with food, water, clothing and school supplies.

“We do this because it’s important to care for each other. We care because God gave love to us. Our mission is to try and cater for future generations.”

The Chaguanas youngster said she started Abbytopia because she believes she can make a difference, and added that it makes her sad to see so many marine life and other animals dying as a result of plastic pollution, which kills hundreds of thousands of marine animals yearly.

“Plastic is one of the most pressing environmental problems. Therefore, we must try to limit our use of single-use plastic items such as straws, plastic bags, disposable spoons and forks, Styrofoam and water bottles. By doing this small act it will lead to big changes.”

She called on the audience to support her at her clean-up campaigns and join her as she pushes to protect, educate, sustain and care for the planet, because she believes everyone should care.

“If we don’t start reducing our plastic pollution it is our generation that will be faced with the problems,” Subrath said.

During the tree planting ceremony, Chaguanas mayor Gopaul Boodhan said the Borough of Chaguanas welcomed the opportunity to celebrate what is both a national and international event. He said the planting of the tree was an initiative of Subrath who visited him and expressed her desire to have an environmentally-friendly item done to mark International Children’s Day.

The event was attended by students of the Montrose Vedic School, Chaguanas Government School and the Chagaunas Roman Catholic School as well as Emmanuel Ramkaran, Dr Dave Alleyne and Dr Dale Des Vignes, members of the Chaguanas Inter-Religious Organization.

Following the event, Subrath’s mother Maria told Express that while Abbytopia became a legally constituted entity a year ago, they have been engaged in community projects for over three years. She said in addition to clean-up campaigns Abbytopia has been educating children between the ages of 4-12 years on reducing plastic use and sustainable living.

“We have created conservation charts on local marine biodiversity and have also developed a paper wrap to eliminate plastic,” the elder Subrath said.

She said Abbytopia has been operating without any kind of financial support and made a plea for organizations with a hands-on corporate social responsibility approach to assist Abbytopia in realising its goals.

Interested parties can visit https://www.facebook.com/AbbytopiaofHope/, for contact information.  

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