|© UNICEF Zambia/2009|
|UNICEF Zambia Child Ambassador Luyando Katenda reads a story to a young patient at the Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital in Lusaka.|
LUSAKA, Zambia, 25 September 2009 – Earlier this month, several UNICEF Child Ambassadors took time to spend an afternoon with children at the Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital in Lusaka. During the visit, the ambassadors interacted with their hospitalized peers by reading to them from locally published storybooks.
The age-appropriate books were carefully selected from the UNICEF-supported Sara Reader series and from the Stars of Africa Series for children from Longman Publishers in Zambia.
The UNICEF Child Ambassadors – Kondwani, Thokozile, Grace and Luyando, together with their friends Mwiza, Mubanga and Kwame – also donated a total of 52 storybooks to the hospital.
Books and compassion
"This is the first time that I have come to this hospital, and it has helped me to learn what my fellow children are going through," explained Luyando. "I am happy, though, that despite their pain they are still able to smile."
|© UNICEF Zambia/2009|
|UNICEF Zambia Child Ambassadors and friends donate storybooks to patients in the children's ward at Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital.|
Mr. Chisenga, a nurse in the children's ward, was grateful for the donation of books and the compassion shown by the young ambassadors.
"Most of these children come from faraway places and do not have families around Lusaka," he said. "The books that have been donated to the ward will be put to good use, and staff will read to the children. Every act of kindness and love that is shown to the patients presents a positive impact on their healing."
Learning social responsibility
One of the objectives of the UNICEF Zambia Child Ambassador programme is to ensure that children develop leadership skills by participating in socially responsible community projects. The visit to the Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital served this goal well.
The hospital – administered on a voluntary basis by the Franciscan Sisters Congregation – is small but well organized and committed to providing free treatment, when necessary, to physically disabled children. Though its operating costs must be supplemented by donations, state-of-the-art surgical techniques are used here for the treatment of congenital and acquired musculo-skeletal abnormalities.
Last year alone, 513 patients were operated upon free of charge.
A sense of normalcy
Like many children in difficult circumstances, those at the hospital need comfort and psycho-social support as much as they need medical care. The visit from the UNICEF Child Ambassadors helped to provide them with the sense of normalcy and fun that all young people need in order to thrive.
"I want to thank UNICEF on behalf of my fellow Child Ambassadors for providing us with the financial and logistical support, which enabled us to able to carry out this project," said Thokozile.