|Jenna Bush with a poster-size cover of the book she has written based on experiences as a volunteer with UNICEF in Latin America.|
By Amy Bennett
NEW YORK, USA, 1 October 2007 – Jenna Bush, who interned with UNICEF in Latin America from September 2006 through May 2007, has drawn from that experience to write ‘Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope’ – a personal account of a girl who struggles to break free from a vicious cycle of abuse, poverty and illness.
“I hope the book will inspire you to make a difference for children like Ana,” said Ms. Bush, 26, daughter of US President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
At a book launch held tonight at UNICEF headquarters in New York, Ms. Bush was joined by her mother, her twin sister Barbara, photographer Mia Baxter, who took the photos in the book, and US Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl M. Stern, among others.
“The story of disparity, violence and exclusion shared in this book is a compelling one,” said Ms. Stern. “In many ways, Ana’s story represents the plight of far too many children and adolescent girls in Latin America and the Caribbean."
|At the UNICEF House book launch for ‘Ana’s Story’ (from left), Barbara Bush, US Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern, Laura Bush, Jenna Bush and UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Nils Kastberg.|
A depiction of harsh realities
Published by Harper Teen, ‘Ana’s Story’ is about a 17-year-old single mother who Ms. Bush met at a UNICEF-supported community organization during her internship. Ana (not her real name) was born with HIV, and her mother died when she was only three. Her HIV status is a matter of shame for her family, and she has suffered abuse because of it.
“When I first met Ana she was very clear in pointing out that she was living with HIV/AIDS and not dying from it. I was immensely moved by her resolve to live a full life and provide her daughter with opportunities for a bright future,” said Ms. Bush.
“Ana’s story is a truthful depiction of the harsh realities young people face in the region,” UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Nils Kastberg said, noting that the story shows how young girls in the region are those most at-risk of HIV and AIDS.
“The book not only warns young people but calls them to action to help the region’s many Anas,” he added.
|Ms. Bush at UNICEF headquarters in New York.|
Young people taking action
After volunteering with the UNICEF regional office in Panama for nine months, Ms. Bush said, she realized that the stories of the young people she worked with needed to be told. She was inspired by those she met, and that motivated her to share the story of Ana.
Until going public with her new book, Ms. Bush has mostly stayed out of the public eye while she and her sister finished their college degrees. Now working as a public school teacher in Washington, DC, she said she has received great support from her mother, a former teacher and librarian, and from her sister, who has volunteered with UNICEF in Africa.
Ms. Bush’s goal in writing ‘Ana’s Story’, she said, was to relate what she learned while working with UNICEF and to get others – especially young people – thinking about and acting on the problems that face children and adolescents in the developing world.
Resources at the back of ‘Ana’s Story’ share how readers can make a difference to children in need.
Tim Ledwith contributed to this story.
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