En bref: Japon

L'ambassadrice itinérante Agnes Chan réfléchit sur sa collaboration et ses voyages au nom de l'UNICEF

Image de l'UNICEF
© UNICEF Japan/2010/Kaneko
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Japan Agnes Chan visits a primary school in Somalia’s Statehouse Camp for displaced people, which was built by UNICEF with support from donor countries including Japan.

TOKYO, JAPON, 22 mars 2010 – L'ambassadrice itinérante de l'UNICEF pour le Japon, Agnes Chan, est à la fois une chanteuse Pop asiatique renommée, Docteur en enseignement et une personnalité de la télévision. Elle  fait plus d'une douzaine de voyages en Afrique, Asie et Moyen-Orient depuis qu'elle a commencé à collaborer avec le Comité japonais pour l'UNICEF en 1998. En plus de sa collaboration avec l'UNICEF, le Docteur Chan plaide également pour la paix et appuie des groupes de pression den faveur des femmes et des droits de l'enfant.

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Le Docteur Chan a commencer par oeuvrer comme bénévole sur les questions des droits de l'enfant, alors qu'elle était jeune lycéenne à Hong Kong. 

« J'aime les enfants depuis toujours » explique-t-elle.

Plus tard, devenue maman, elle a commencé à emmener son fils avec elle dans ses déplacements avec l'UNICEF pour lui apprendre à venir en aide aux autres, tandis que dans le même temps, elle apprenait l'importance de défendre les droits de l'enfant.

« On n'en fait pas assez, c'est pourquoi les enfants souffrent » déclare le Docteur Chan. « C'est notre responsabilité d'agir pour les aider. »

De retour de Somalie, un pays à nul autre pareil

Le Docteur Chan est retourné récemment pour une viste d'une semaine dans le Nord Ouest de la Somalie. Sur place, elle a porté son attention sur les problèmes auxquels sont confrontés femmes et enfants de cette région, et aux défis que doivent  relever les milliers de personnes déplacées vivant dans le pays.

Image de l'UNICEF
© 2010 UNICEF Somalia/Morooka
Dr. Chan with a severely malnourished child at Hargeisa Group Hospital, at the Stabilization Centre supported by UNICEF.

During her visit to Hargeisa town, Dr. Chan saw firsthand the situation of children and women living in settlements for displaced persons. At a settlement for more than 16,000 Somalis displaced by conflict, Dr. Chan spoke to mothers about their struggles to survive.  She witnessed the camp’s difficult conditions – poor housing, lack of job opportunities, extreme poverty, malnutrition and lack of basic social services.

“At the camp, I spoke to a 37-year-old mother who fled Mogadishu with her nine children after her house was destroyed by a mortar attack and six of her family members were killed,” Dr. Chan recalled. “She said that her family was lucky to have made it to this camp... but added that life is still very hard.”

Many challenges

In her 13 overseas visits with UNICEF, Dr. Chan said she had never seen a country like Somalia, where, in addition to fighting and instability, Somali children face many health and educational challenges. 

Nearly half of Somali children under five show signs of chronic malnutrition, the effects of which Dr. Chan witnessed when she visited a UNICEF-supported Stabilization Centre Programme at the Hargeisa Group Hospital for the treatment of severely malnourished children. 

Dr. Chan also visited a primary school – UNICEF is the sole provider of all text books and schools supplies for primary schools in Somalia.

Image de l'UNICEF
© 2010 UNICEF Somalia/Morooka
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Japan Agnes Chan heads to Somalia (from Nairobi) on board a United Nations plane in February 2010.

Another issue highlighted by Dr. Chan during her visit was a practice called Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), which is common in Somalia. She met with Somali women opposing the practice and heard stories from those who had experienced it.

Impacts on music

Dr. Chan says her visits to war-torn countries like Iraq, Darfur and Somalia have impacted her the most – both as an artist and as a human. She says her UNICEF work has even impacted her music, and many of her lyrics in recent years have been about children and world peace.

“I can hardly write love songs anymore,” she said. “But I think I have a lot of new fans because I sing songs that are very close to their hearts, too.”

Originally from Hong Kong, Agnes Chan earned a Ph.D. in education from Stanford University and has written more than 70 books. Her first song, released when she was 14 years old, has sold more copies than any other in Hong Kong’s music history. She has been a tireless advocate for children, particularly children whose lives have been turned upside down by conflict.


 

 

Audio (en anglais)

L'ambassadrice itinérante pour le  Japon, Agnes Chan explique comment son expérience avec l'UNICEF a eu un impact sur sa vie et la musique.
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