By Bibiana Melzi
UCAYALI REGION and LIMA, Peru, 27 October 2010 – Actor, filmmaker and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover made headlines recently for his extensive trip through Peru, in promotion of UNICEF’s ‘Buena Onda’ (Good Mood) campaign, dedicated to improving the lives of Peruvian children across the country.
|VIDEO: UNICEF'S Bibiana Melzi reports on Danny Glover's visit to Peru in support of the organization's initiatives. Watch in RealPlayer|
Travelling to the remote region of Ucayali located in the heart of Peru’s tropical rainforest, Glover stopped in New Saposoa to meet with the Shipibo Conibo, a group which makes up 9 per cent of the Peruvian indigenous population.
First on the list of activities for the Goodwill Ambassador was a visit to a primary school where all classes are being taught in Shipibo. This intercultural bilingual approach is part of a UNICEF initiative to improve the quality of education by encouraging children to learn their native language. Speaking to this point, Mr. Glover stressed the importance of maintaining diversity in the world and preserving the tradition and heritage of Peru’s indigenous people.
Wawa Wasis making an impact
Danny Glover wrapped up his trip at an early childhood care centre called a Wawa Wasi or 'house of the children'. In Peru, where more than half the people do not earn an income sufficient to cover their basic necessities, Wawa Wasis are filling a pressing need. Currently, there are 6800 of these centres in the country, a number which only meets 14 per cent of the demand.
|© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2071/Susan Markisz|
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover, smiles amid a group of children, in the indigenous Shipibo-Conibo community of Nuevo Saposoa in the eastern province of Coronel Portillo in Ucayali Region in the Peruvian Amazon. The nose is the symbol for the UNICEF ‘Buena Onda’ campaign.|
For a small fee, working mothers leave their young children in a day-care home with a ‘mother-in-charge’ who is trained in health care, early childhood stimulation and basic nutrition.
Fifty per cent of children under the age of three suffer anaemia. In the Wawa Wasis, reduction of anaemia is being achieved thanks to the multi micronutrients that the children are given along with balanced meals that are supervised by nutritionists.
Remarking on these accomplishments, Paul Martin UNICEF Representative in Peru said, “Peru has advanced tremendously. The national government committed itself to greatly diminishing infant mortality and chronic malnutrition and here in Peru that is happening. Partly by public policies but more important is the commitment of the public to help make that a reality.”
|© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-2085/Susan Markisz|
|UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover greets children during his visit to a ‘Wawa Wasi’, an integrated early childhood development centre.|
The achievements at the Wawa Wasis are certainly examples of some positive changes being made in Peru. However, more work still needs to be done. Despite its economic growth, Peru has major hurdles to overcome, especially with regards to its indigenous people. In recent years, UNICEF Peru has gone a long way to broaden its spectrum and increase its work in the Peruvian Amazon territory.
“None of us live on island,” Danny Glover eloquently expressed upon the conclusion of his trip. “Whether you are wealthy or middle income, around you is another world. And, ‘Buena Onda’ means that we want to look at this other world and see if we can be participants in making changes in this world, see if we can help people, see if we can extend our hand and at the same time feel good about it.”