UNICEF and Viet Nam’s Next Top Model Engage in Unique Partnership for Children
By Sandra Bisin and Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
From right to left: Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan and Khuou Thi Huyen Trang, the three Next Top Model finalists, together with Ms. Vu Nguyen Ha Anh, UNICEF Viet Nam’s goodwill ambassador and host of the show. © UNICEF/Viet Nam/2010/Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 18 January 2010 – On their first visit to UNICEF-supported projects, finalists of Viet Nam’s Next Top Model visited a pagoda where children affected by HIV and their families are receiving support and counselling from Buddhist monks and nuns.
“I visited the pagoda and talked to children affected by HIV. I also talked to an HIV-positive mother. She told me she still has not told the school teacher that her daughter is HIV-positive because she is afraid of people’s reactions. She knows they will not allow her to go back to school”, said Khuou Thi Huyen Trang, a 20 year-old finalist to the show. “I would like to tell everyone that children affected by HIV need support from us and should be cared for by everyone. Like any other children, children with HIV also have the right to go to school, to play, to be loved and cared for”.
As part of a unique partnership with Viet Nam’s Next Top Model - a Vietnamese version of America's Next Top Model - UNICEF Viet Nam has committed to brief the three finalists to the show on key issues that affect children and young people’s lives in today’s Viet Nam. UNICEF then took them on a two-day journey in Ho Chi Minh City and Ninh Thuan province, in Southern Viet Nam, so they would gain better understanding of these issues. During this trip Khuou Thi Huyen Trang, Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy and Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, all of them 20 years of age, were familiarised with the importance of good hygiene and sanitation to ensure children’s health, the stigma and discrimination that children affected by HIV are facing, the impact of prenatal sex selection on Viet Nam’s population, the consequences of domestic violence on families and children and the value of exclusive breastfeeding. The field trip was filmed and broadcast as part of the fifteenth episode of the show on 6 January 2011.
“I learnt many interesting things, especially about exclusive breastfeeding”, said Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, another finalist. “Now, I know that breast milk is best for children and they should only be fed with breast milk in the first six months of their lives, only breast milk, not anything else, not even water. It’s an eye opener for me and I am confident that I will breastfeed my babies when I get married and I have children”. Getting mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies is still a critical issue in Viet Nam where only 17 per cent of infants are exclusively breastfed till they are 6 months of age.
One of the three Viet Nam’s Next Top Model finalists, Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, 20 years old, at a day-care centre for children in a UNICEF-supported pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Southern Viet Nam. © UNICEF/Viet Nam/2010/Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
Sending messages to millions of viewers
“We know that if ideas and messages are shared by people the audience is looking up to, like the show’s finalists, they will come through in a more powerful way”, adds Ms. Sylwander.
Beautiful and smart with a big heart
"There have been many model competitions in Viet Nam, but they've been pretty much the same," Multimedia company spokesperson Le Thi Quynh Trang explains – Multimedia has been licensed the rights to the hit US television series in Viet Nam. "This is the first ever reality show in Viet Nam. We realised that America's Next Top Model was an ideal programme to focus on a modern approach to training and managing models in Viet Nam. In addition to bringing these young women to the international modeling scene, we wanted to empower them, trigger the compassion in them. In addition to being beautiful and smart, we also wanted to give them the opportunity to show that they have a big heart, that they understand the world around them and are willing to take action to make things change, hence the partnership with UNICEF".
Role models for younger generations
UNICEF Viet Nam’s goodwill ambassador, internationally renowned supermodel Ms. Vu Nguyen Ha Anh, is hosting Viet Nam’s Next Top Model. “Ha Anh is a famous person who has this unique capacity to inspire girls and is a role model for young generations. We know that as the show’s host, also with her commitment and understanding of children’s issues, Ha Anh will carry fantastic messages to young generations in Viet Nam and bring hope to millions of children”, says Ms. Sylwander.
Since 30 September 2010, when the show started and a thousand young girls attended the casting, 18 contestants were selected to the semi-final. Contestants were eliminated weekly. Vietnam’s Next Top Model – the finalist who has what it takes to become a supermodel – will be called and crowned in the final show broadcast live and primetime on 23 January 2011 on the biggest Vietnamese TV channel: VTV3. “We hope that following the field trip with UNICEF, and interactions with children receiving our assistance, Vietnam’s Next Top Model will be willing to continue supporting our work and follow in the footsteps of our Goodwill Ambassador”, says Ms. Sylwander.
Viet Nam’s Next Top Model finalists and UNICEF Viet Nam’s goodwill ambassador Ms. Vu Nguyen Ha Anh at a gathering in Ninh Thuan province to discuss the impact of prenatal sex selection in Viet Nam. © UNICEF/Viet Nam/2010/Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
The Next Top Model finalist will appear on the cover of Her World Magazine and sign an exclusive two-year contract with a professional model agency worth US$50,000. The winner will also receive a model training course at Wilhelmina Model Agency (who host almost winners of America’s Next Top Model in many cycles) in the United States as well as other bonuses and benefits.