|© UNICEF video|
|‘Idols West Africa’ finalists Omawumi and Timi in a public service announcement produced by M-Net TV for the AIDS campaign.|
By Christine Jaulmes
ABUJA, Nigeria, 31 May 2007 – Timi and Omawumi, the two ‘Idols West Africa’ finalists of the current season, are not smiling. Their faces are serious and even sad, symbolizing the gravity of what they are doing – filming a special public service announcement about the effects of HIV/AIDS on children in the region.
“The impact of AIDS on children is devastating,” Timi and Omawumi say in the PSA. “Every day in West and Central Africa, more than 500 children under 15 years of age get infected by HIV, and more than 400 children die of AIDS.”
The spot concludes with a call to action: ‘We need your support. Please join us and help UNICEF to free young lives from the burden of AIDS.”
Millions of children at risk
‘Idols West Africa’, a musical-competition reality show, premiered in January 2007 on the M-Net TV channel. Broadcast on the DSTv platform in 17 countries, it has become the most talked-about show in this part of the world.
The success of ‘Idols’ has in fact been overwhelming, with hundreds of thousands of viewers following each week as their favourite singer-contestants climbed the steps of fame to the top 10 and, ultimately, the last 2 finalist spots. The finale of ‘Idols West Africa’ came on Nigeria Children’s Day, so M-Net and UNICEF agreed to use the opportunity to raise awareness for the global campaign, Unite for Children, Unite against Aids.
|© UNICEF video|
|Omawumi holds blue string representing an AIDS ribbon during a video shoot in support of the global campaign on children and AIDS.|
In West and Central Africa, 646,000 children under 15 years of age are living with HIV. Most of them do not receive the treatment they need to live healthy lives. Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women in the region are HIV-positive, but very few get adequate care to prevent the transmission of the virus to their babies.
More than 3 million of the region’s children, meanwhile, have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Many are left without care and have to fend for themselves, a situation that puts them at risk of abuse and exploitation.
A chance to change lives
The Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign was launched in October 2005 to show the world that children are as affected by HIV/AIDS as adults. The campaign is attracting funds that help UNICEF and its partners implement projects to prevent HIV infection, protect vulnerable children and provide paediatric treatment.
M-Net and UNICEF are hoping for greater public awareness of the pandemic in West and Central Africa, as well as increased support for projects aimed at helping children. ‘Idols’ shows worldwide give young, talented singers a chance to further their careers and change their lives. Now it is their turn to help change the lives of millions of children affected by HIV/AIDS.
On the ‘Idols West Africa’ finale, which aired on 28 May, Timi won top honours for the season – and a huge audience across the African continent saw the PSA that he and Omawumi had filmed for the occasion.