FREETOWN, 14 July 2003 - UNICEF’s most outstanding child advocate, actress and Goodwill Ambassador, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, will be conducting a goodwill journey to Sierra Leone from the 17th – 21st July to gain first hand experience on the plight of Sierra Leone’s children after a decade of civil conflict and to urge a greater global response. Her visit, which will receive extensive media coverage in Japan, is expected to reinforce Sierra Leone’s urgent need for recovery and reconstruction on the world’s agenda.
Accompanied by an international team of journalists, including cameramen and photographers, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi will visit UNICEF supported programmes in the areas of Education, Water & Sanitation, Health, Child Protection and HIV & AIDS. She will see projects and activities to observe the consequences of a decade-long civil war such as a reintegration centre, water and sanitation facilities and HIV/AIDS peer education activities in Koidu; Emergency education and Health projects in Makeni and vulnerable youth, street children and malaria control in Freetown. Madam Kuroyanagi will also travel to Bandajuma to see for herself the plight of thousands of Liberian refugees.
The Goodwill Ambassador will have the opportunity to meet with Government officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, members of the humanitarian community counterparts, community leaders, children, young people and the press. Tetsuko Kuroyanagi will be accompanied by Mrs. Shirley Gbujama, Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA).
At the end of her visit it is expected the Ambassador will meet with Vice President Solomon Berewa to share with him her experiences while in the field and to call Government’s attention on the need to give the children of Sierra Leone a better chance in life.
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is Japan’s much loved TV personality and author. She has rendered 20 years of distinguished service as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since her appointment in 1984. She received UNICEF’s first ever Leadership Award for children on 24th October 2000 for her unsurpassed record in advocacy and fundraising for children world-wide. “We couldn’t think of anyone who deserved this award more than Tetsuko-san”, UNICEF Deputy Director Kul Gautam said during the presentation ceremony in New York. Since her appointment, Madame Kuroyanagi has personally raised more than US$ 31 million – more than any other UNICEF celebrity advocate – and visited over 20 countries, often under difficult conditions.
She has made numerous visits to the to the world’s most volatile regions, including Cambodia, Angola, Iraq, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Liberia, where civil wars, natural and man-made disasters have put the survival of children on the edge. Such visits have gone beyond the struggle for survive to the more vital need of putting smiles on the faces of the world’s most unfortunate children. Seeing the difficult obstacles that so many of the world’s children and their strength in overcoming them, has made her feel stronger in dealing with life, Kuroyanagi said. “Children just want to go forward”.
Kuroyanagi has received several awards in her career as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. These include Child survival Award for previous work in fundraising and advocacy in 1987, the Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi Education Award from Hiroshima University in 1998 for recognition of her advocacy efforts on behalf of underprivileged children. She was voted Japan’s favourite television personality 14 times. Tetsuko Room her daily TV show since 1975 won the Cultural Broadcasting Award – Japans’ highest television honour.
Born in Tokyo, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is the daughter of a celebrated violinist and one of Japan’s most popular television personalities. She studied opera at the Tokyo College of Music, but then decided to become an actress after graduation. She has won prestigious awards for her outstanding performances. She is Japan’s best selling author. Prominent among her book is “Tatto-chan: The Little Girl at the window”. The international success of this book led to her appointment as Goodwill Ambassador in 1984. Royalties from the sale of her books enabled her to set up the Totto Foundation to train professional actors who have hearing impairment.
External Relations and Advocacy Unit
UNICEF Freetown, Sierra Leone
For additional information call:
Ms. Alexandra Westerbeek, Ms Alison Parker or Mr. Alusine Savage mobile 076 601310 or 022 - 226825 / 235723