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Musician Stewart Sukuma shares basic life skills with children

© UNICEF Mozambique/Naysan Sahba
Celeste Vitorino, 15 years old, discusses her dreams for the future with the singer Stewart and her peers in Matalane.

Matalane, December 15, 2009 - More than a hundred children of the rural community of Matalane received a surprise visit today from the famous Mozambican singer Stewart Sukuma, who came to their community to share inspiring life stories on how to turn talent and dreams into success.

Gathering in the shade of a leafy tree at the Matalane Cultural Centre, a unique institution established for the promotion of the arts, children of all ages heard from Stewart and his guests and spoke up about their dreams and aspirations and the challenges that they might face along the way.

"I am very happy to be here with Stewart. I only knew him from television and have wished for so long to see him personally. I'm learning a lot from him today," said 15 year old Celeste Vitorino.  Celeste spoke to her elders and her peers of her plans for the future.

"When I grow up I would like to be a Civil Engineer. I know that to get there I have to continue to study hard and prevent myself from diseases such as AIDS," she said, delighted to be heard and encouraged by one of her favourite artists.

Over the past two years and on his own initiative, Stewart has made time in his packed performance, recording, and promotion schedule to visit 15 schools in the provinces of Maputo, Inhambane and Gaza, providing children with a powerful vision of a future that is bright, healthy, and attainable.

© UNICEF Mozambique/Emidio Machiana
Singer Stewart shares with children inspiring life stories on how to turn talent and dreams into success.

"My aim is to contribute to the education of children with useful life skills, helping them understand the importance of protecting themselves from HIV, sexual exploitation, and addiction. They have dreams and aspirations; they should therefore strive to make them a reality by making the best choices for their lives," explains Stewart.

For his school-based workshops the singer usually invites along other national and international artists, successful entrepreneurs, and influential personalities to share their stories and serve as role models for the participating children. The visit to Matalane, for example, had the active participation of the acclaimed artist Malangatana, who is a founding member of the Matalane Cultural Centre, and the legendary musician Dilon Djindji.

Stewart and UNICEF have an ongoing collaboration to promote child rights and associated messages, most recently through the celebration of the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“I’m glad to learn today that we have rights and how important it is to proceed with studies. I’m going to share this also with my younger sisters at home," said Celeste at the end of debate.

His next engagement back in the capital city awaits his return.  Before leaving, however, Stewart takes the opportunity to donate school materials for the students, a guitar for the Cultural Centre, and a scholarship to a promising young girl to attend classes at the National Music School in Maputo. And, to the joy of the children, he does not resist the call for a quick game of soccer under the trees. 

As part of a strategy to promote public-private partnerships, UNICEF will continue to work with influential personalities and the business sector to scale up initiatives that contribute to the realization of children's rights, and to create opportunities for children to participate and express their opinions in matters that concern them.



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