Swaziland

Ann M. Veneman is first UNICEF Executive Director to visit Swaziland

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© UNICEF/HQ05-0695/Nesbitt
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman joins children at the Dvumbe Primary School, south-east of Mbabane, Swaziland.

By Thomas Nybo

MBABANE, Swaziland, 24 May 2005 -- Ann M. Veneman has become the first UNICEF Executive Director to visit Swaziland. This tiny African country suffers from one of the world's highest HIV prevalence rates. About 38 per cent of its adult population carries the virus and the figure is even higher among pregnant women (42 per cent).

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© UNICEF/2005/Nesbitt
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman smiles while visiting with schoolchildren at the Dvumbe Primary School, southeast of Mbabane, the capital of Swaziland.

Among Ms. Veneman's stops was a visit to a health clinic where HIV-positive pregnant women are receiving treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to their children. Another problem related to HIV and AIDS is that many children growing up in Swaziland do so without parents. There are now about 69,000 children who have lost one or both parents. Ms. Veneman visited a 10-year old boy who was abandoned at a very young age. He now lives with his grandmother and great-grandmother, but because of their age and frailty, he has become the main caregiver and does not attend school.

UNICEF has been working to make it easier for boys like him to get into the classroom, by supporting programs that give children two nutritious meals a day. UNICEF has also set up neighbourhood care centres for orphaned children, where adult volunteers teach them skills, make their meals, and offer them emotional support.

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© UNICEF/2005/Nesbitt
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman with schoolchildren at the Dvumbe Primary School, southeast of Mbabane, capital of Swaziland. Standing next to Ms. Veneman is Alan Brody, UNICEF Representative for Swaziland.
"Children are the future," Ms. Veneman said. "They are the future of every country, they're the future of everything this world is going to be about, and so anything that we can do to better the world for children will benefit humankind." Veneman's tour of the region continues with stops in South Africa and Malawi.

 

 

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24 May 2005:
UNICEF's Thomas Nybo covers Ann M. Veneman's visit to Swaziland.

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