Who We Are
Celebrated on Universal Children’s Day – 20 November of each year – the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children connects people and organizations to protect children. Improving the welfare of children is an urgent global challenge. By working with the world’s diverse faith communities, governments, and civil society, we can accelerate and magnify their efforts to help children worldwide.
Initiated by the global non-governmental organization, Arigatou International, the World Day has promoted prayer and action for the well-being of children on Universal Children’s Day since 2008.
The World Day of Prayer and Action for Children is an opportunity for both prayer and action on behalf of children.
The World Day is an opportunity for:
- Diverse religious communities and people of faith everywhere, guided by their respective religious teachings and values, to express hope and determination through prayer, meditation and worship that the world be made fit for children; and
- Civil society, including people of good will, religious groups, governments and international organizations such as UNICEF, to take common action for children on issues including poverty, children’s rights, child protection, education, and discrimination.
- Action and advocacy on the World Day are inspired by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Day is an opportunity not only to pray but for everyone to take action that makes an immediate difference in improving children’s lives.
Arigatou International — whose mission is to build partnerships to enrich children’s lives worldwide — was founded in 1990 by the Japanese Buddhist organization, Myochikai. Myochikai members donate to the work of Arigatou International as part of their Buddhist spiritual practice. The Japanese word “Arigatou” means “thank you” and expresses the gratitude of Myochikai members for the opportunity to help children worldwide.
We are an international faith-based NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and consultative status with UNICEF. The organization has four major program areas: assistance for children in difficult circumstances; raising public awareness of children’s issues; art & culture and information provision; and interfaith cooperation.
Arigatou International also initiated the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) at its first global forum in Tokyo Japan in 2000. The Global Network of Religions for Children is a worldwide interfaith network of individuals and organizations dedicated to promoting the well-being of children everywhere. Most World Day of Prayer and Action events from 2008 through 2012 were planned and facilitated by GNRC members in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
Principles of Engagement
- Affirms the right of every child to full and healthy physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development and is guided by five key principles of respect for:
- the dignity of human beings from all religions, cultures, and civilizations1
- the spiritual, religious and faith tradition of every child
- the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion2
- the rights of parents to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child3
- the liberty of parents, and, when applicable, legal guardians to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions4
- Clearly recognizes the primary role of parents and guardians in guiding the spiritual and religious formation of their children. Therefore, it is our firmly held conviction that we respect the cultural, religious and spiritual heritage of the child. This is both a principle of our mission and an international human right.
- Is an initiative of Arigatou International, whose founder, the Reverend Takeyasu Miyamoto, recognizes the inherent right of the child to spiritual growth. “It is my firm belief that spiritual decline and lack of attention to basic ethics is at the root of the increasing violence and injustice we see all around us today. An essential step on the road to peace is to ensure that every child grows up with full access to his/her innate capacity for spiritual development.”5
- Arigatou Foundation, Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education, Geneva, 2008.
- United Nations Children’s Fund, Convention on the Rights of the Child, New York, 1989.
- United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, New York, 1966.
- Miyamoto, Takeyasu in Learning to Live Together: An Intercultural and Interfaith Programme for Ethics Education, p. 14.