South Africa, 19 July 2012: UNICEF Ambassador Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United player Ben Amos call for end to abuse of vulnerable children
NDWEDWE, South Africa, 19 July 2012 – Manchester United Manager and UNICEF United Kingdom Ambassador Sir Alex Ferguson took time out from the club’s pre-season tour of South Africa to learn about the impact of violence and abuse on the country’s orphans and to call on communities to play an active role in protecting vulnerable children.
South Africa has 3.4 million orphans; they are nearly a fifth of the country’s children. Many have lost one or both parents to HIV. These children often live in extreme poverty, suffer from stress or grief, and are vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation.
Mr. Ferguson and Manchester United player Ben Amos visited orphans and vulnerable children in the rural community of Ndwedwe, in KwaZulu-Natal, and learned about UNICEF’s work to protect and support them.
Safety and support for vulnerable children
‘Isibinidi’ – which means ‘courage’ in the local language – is a community-based project supported by UNICEF and the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers, developed to care for vulnerable children and to break the cycle of abuse and violence that they face.
The project trains child care workers to support orphans and their families. These child care workers conduct regular home visits, provide practical support with important everyday activities such as cooking and homework, and offer much-needed psychosocial support. ‘Isibindi’ also builds and maintains a network of ‘Safe Parks’, areas where children can safely play, study and learn important life skills such HIV prevention.
Calling for further efforts to protect children
“As a UNICEF Ambassador and through Manchester United’s 13-year ‘United for UNICEF’ partnership, I’ve visited many projects, but to hear how young people, especially orphans, suffer is always shattering,” said Mr. Ferguson.
Manchester United has been working with UNICEF since 1999 through the 'United for UNICEF' partnership, which has raised over £2.5 million for UNICEF programmes, benefiting more than 2.2 million children worldwide.
“UNICEF is calling on all communities to step up and play a more significant role in protecting all children, especially the most vulnerable, from abuse and violence. Projects like ‘Isibindi’ are making a real difference, but to reach the millions of orphans in South Africa, UNICEF needs more support. Manchester United is committed to supporting UNICEF in this cause, and I’m calling on others to do the same.”
*Names changed to protect the children’s identities
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