15 March 2012
MAPUTO, Mozambique, March 2012 – In February this year, professional photographer Mark Lehn traveled with UNICEF staff to the central provinces of Sofala, Manica and Tete to document the plight of children living in child headed households, collecting dramatic visuals and heart breaking narratives from the field.
Mr. Lehn, a Canadian living and working in Australia, offered his professional services to UNICEF on a pro bono basis, having become interested in the issue of child headed households during a prior visit to Ethiopia. "I would like to help raise awareness of the difficult situation facing these children," said Mr. Lehn, who pointed out that while the situation is not all bad, a lot more work is needed to meet the basic survival and social needs of families headed by children and by elderly people taking care of their orphaned grandchildren.
"The situation of these children is urgent and needs immediate attention," said Mayke Huijbregts, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF Mozambique. "There are enormous needs in terms of social protection and psycho-social support, and we need to help meet these needs," said Ms. Huijbregts.
Huge pressure is put on these young children, who are forced to take responsibility for their siblings when their parents die, but the mechanisms to support them are inadequate or largely non-existent, and in many cases the families are left to themselves to fight for survival. The photos and narratives collected by Mr. Lehn will be used to raise awareness of the issues pertaining to these vulnerable households and to mobilize resources to support relevant interventions and systems strengthening.
The United Nations in Mozambique has elected Social Protection as one of the priorities areas where UN agencies will concentrate their collective effort to support the Government in achieving palpable results. For more information, please see Photo Gallery and visit: