Actor Khaled Abol Naga dances for life with children and calls for fighting stigma against people living with HIV
Cairo, 7 July, 2007:
The first Dance4Life camp in Egypt took place at the Civic Education Centre in Cairo run by the National Council of Youth from 3rd- 7th July. It brought 80 children together from 18 schools that joined the Dance4Life Egypt School Network.
“The purpose of this camp was to link young people with serving society and community work.” said Amr Othman, supervisor of the Dance4Life Project in Egypt. “The philosophy of Dance4Life is to involve youths and to create agents of change, not listeners to lectures. Children came up during the camp with ideas for projects and they learnt the importance of being responsible for their own lives as well as others’”.
The Global Dance4Life initiative started in response to the fact that young people are the most affected by HIV and AIDS. Of the 12,000 people infected everyday, more than 50% are under the age of 25. This initiative involves young people all around the world in fun activities such as dancing and music to engage them in creating awareness about the disease, and fighting the stigma around it. Egypt joined the global movement in 2006 and since then 30 schools have been reached by the project’s activities and the network is expanding. The project is also paving the way towards engaging university students in its activities.
Children welcomed with enthusiasm the participation of Mr. Khaled Abol Naga, Actor and UNICEF Egypt Goodwill Ambassador, and Ms. Yosra, Actress and Dance4Life Goodwill Ambassador, at the closing ceremony held on Saturday.
“Young people in Egypt and the Arab region have tremendous under-used energy and talent, and they have lots of enthusiasm that compels us to encourage them more”, said Mr. Abol Naga. “I am here today to support the camp and to encourage the children to keep on going on this right track".
“People living with HIV face many injustices. Imagine being fired because you have AIDS or having to hide the drugs in your own home so that no one finds out…” added Mr. Abol Naga addressing young participants. “You are the agents of change of the future who will stand up against stigma that people living with HIV/AIDS face”.
Sixteen-year-old Kanzi who participated in the camp spoke about her experience with Dance4Life. “I thought that AIDS was a problem that is alien to us because we are an oriental society. To my surprise, the number of new HIV infection has increased steeply in the last few years in Egypt and anyone of us can be a victim of AIDS”.
Another participant, 18 year-old Islam, said: “We are the generation of the future who can change everything for a better tomorrow. The camp has taught us how to depend on ourselves, to be confident and take responsibility. People living with HIV are being wronged by society. They are the same as anyone of us and should be treated the same”.
Dance4Life provides children with essential information and life skills as well as the tools to actively be involved in promoting a healthy life style in their schools and communities. The Dance4Life drill is being performed worldwide to send out messages of fighting together against AIDS and the stigma. Mr. Abol Naga joined the 80 campers in performing the drill at the end of the ceremony on Saturday, after practicing the choreography with the young organizers of the event.
“Egypt joined the world in performing this drill, which unites all races and faiths through these same moves. We dance to celebrate life.” said Mo’men Zaki, the Coordinator of Dance4Life Project in Egypt.
UNICEF Egypt is supporting Dance4life under the “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS and Hepatitis C” Campaign, which was launched in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Population and other partners. Mr. Abol Naga has supported the Campaign since its launch in November 2006. Other UN agencies such as UNFPA and UNAIDS are also supporting Dance4life as part of their mandates.
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For more information contact:
Iman Morooka, UNICEF Egypt Media, Tel: +202 2526 5083 (ext. 206), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org