August 2016

UNICEF Celebrates 70th Year in SM Malls

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is celebrating 70 years of helping children all over world through an interactive exhibit in SM malls.

The exhibit features UNICEF’s lifesaving work for children in the areas of Health and Nutrition, Education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Child Protection, and Emergencies & Disaster Risk Reduction. It also features an innovative virtual reality section, where one can get a 360 degree experience of how life is like for children escaping the violence in Syria.

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“For 70 years, UNICEF has worked to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged, vulnerable, and excluded children around the world. We believe that every child, regardless of their background and circumstances, should have a fair chance at life and be able to reach their full potential,” says UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander.

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She adds, “It is our hope that by learning about the issues that children face and what UNICEF does to address these, we can urge the public to give their support, in any way they can. We are grateful to SM Supermalls for their steadfast support in raising awareness on children’s issues and protecting their rights.”

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UNICEF does not get any funding from the UN and depends solely on voluntary donations from organizations and individuals to carry out its mission of helping children the most disadvantaged children in the Philippines and all over the world.

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Annie Garcia, President of SM Supermalls, said it has always been an honor to be a partner of UNICEF in its many programs for children. “SM’s partnership with UNICEF goes a long way and we are deeply honored that they have chosen to celebrate their 70th anniversary with us,” she stated.

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SM and UNICEF have been partners since 2008, working together in various projects such as in Water, Sanitation & Hygiene wherein a portion of the proceeds of SM’s bottled water goes to the organization’s efforts to provide clean drinking water to various provinces in the country.

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SM and UNICEF have also recently partnered in a Book reading Program in which 3,600 public school children were given free books.

Royston Cabuñag, Director of SM Cares Program on Children & Youth, pointed out that SM has evolved from just being a mall developer to a builder of communities through its many programs that uplift the lives of people where their malls operate.  “Today marks another milestone as we celebrate UNICEF’s 70th year anniversary of helping children and it is during events like these that we define our role in society that give us fulfillment and allows us to transform not only professionally but also personally as we grow from just being a mall developer to community builder amidst the changes of a growing nation,” Cabuñag said.

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The UNICEF: 70 Years for Every Child exhibit will go to other SM malls including SM Southmall, SM City San Lazaro and SM City Fairview from August to October. The exhibit is made possible through the support of SM Supermalls, SM Cares, Samsung, Papercon, Airspeed Philippines, and Studio Dialogo.

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SM Hosts Photo Exhibit to Highlight the Beauty of Breastfeeding

Staying true to its commitment to assist breastfeeding mothers, SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Prime Inc., played host to a breastfeeding event to highlight the beauty and importance of breastfeeding as well as find ways to improve breastfeeding rate in the country.

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Co-hosting the launch of the Feel to Free to Breastfeed campaign at the SM Aura in Taguig City with gobreastfeed.com, Natalac, Lactation Attachment Training Counselling and Help (LATCH) and La Leche Philippines, SM Cares gathered together breastfeeding advocates, celebrity mothers and empowered women to show the beauty and value of breastfeeding through a photo exhibit featuring mothers breastfeeding their children.

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The event also coincided with the celebration of the National Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

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Kate Delos Reyes, creator of gobreastfeed.com said she came out with the exhibit to show that there is nothing to be ashamed of when breastfeeding. “It is the most natural way of feeding our children and there is no shame in that. In fact we should be encouraging women to make this a commitment when they have children because this is the best nourishment we can give them,” she said.

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Also speaking at the event, Dra. Cristina Bernardo, a pediatrician said the reason why breastfeeding rate remains low is because many mothers have to leave their babies to work two months after delivery. She said if mothers are allowed to stay with their children a longer period of time, exclusive breastfeeding will be more successful.  “We have been pushing for the passage of the Expanded Maternity Leave bill because we believe that the key to successful breastfeeding is to give mothers the time to be with their babies longer. Many mothers discontinue exclusive breastfeeding when they return to work after the allowable 60 days,” Bernardo said.

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Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, she pointed out, the Philippines has one of the lowest maternity leave period. Vietnam provides 120 to 180 days of maternity leave while Singapore gives 112 days maternity leave. Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Lao PDR have 84 days maternity leave.

Bernadette Velasco, Director of the SM Cares Program on Women and Breastfeeding, said that SM will always be a partner in empowering women to breastfeed their babies in all its malls through its breastfeeding stations.  “We have always been supportive of women who choose to breastfeed as we are the first one to provide lactation clinics in our malls,” Velasco pointed out.

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A breastfeeding pod was also unveiled to make breastfeeding more convenient. Tomas Meneses, President of Metropolitan Pharmaceutical Products Inc., creator of the pod, said they want to show the future of breastfeeding in the Philippines.

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“The pod, which can accommodate four women at the same time, can be placed anywhere in a public place because it is moveable and it gives mothers the privacy needed to breastfeed,” Meneses said.

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