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Little girl’s struggles wins 2013 Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award

The heart-rending story of a small girl’s struggle in a Manila slum has won this year’s Asia-Pacific Child Rights Awards for broadcasting.

Reel Time: Bone Dry, a documentary by GMA Network, spotlights child malnutrition in the Philippines, where two in ten children are undernourished. 

Filmed in the Tondo district, one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the country, the documentary tells the story of Mary Rose, a 10-year-old whose height and weight are those of a five-year old child. She lives with her five siblings, who have all been diagnosed as severely malnourished.

The award, created by the ABU, UNICEF and the CASBAA media association in 2001, is given annually to the best television program produced in the Asia-Pacific with a focus on children’s rights. It is being presented on 24 October during the CASBAA Convention in Hong Kong.

ABU Secretary General Dr Javad Mottaghi said the winning documentary showed the power that a simple documentary style could bring to even the smallest story.

“The subject, Mary Rose, has almost nothing: no money, little food, a bare education and realistically a bleak future, yet this documentary for a short time elevates her to represent all the millions of children who live mostly on hope,” he said. “This short film is an example to all of us in the industry of how our program-making tools can be properly used with simplicity, skill and compassion.”

The GMA team said filming was heart-breaking for all of them.

“It was never easy to document how Mary Rose and her younger siblings eat only once a day,” a spokesperson said. “After showing the documentary, many viewers were touched by Mary Rose’s story. Now an American couple is sponsoring her and her family.”

Leonie Ki, Chairman of Advocacy and Public Relations at UNICEF Hong Kong, said: “Despite improvements [in tackling malnutrition], there are still more than 85 million children under the age of five who are chronically malnourished or stunted across the region.”

Christopher Slaughter, CEO of the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia said: “CASBAA commends GMA Network for producing this program, which highlights the problems of child malnutrition in the Philippines, using television to spread the message.”

All the finalists can be viewed at:

More information about the Award, this year’s finalists and a Q&A with the winner is at: