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© UNICEF Mozambique/2005/Klaus
At the launch in Maputo, hundreds of children came together to form a blue and red ribbon – the symbol of the campaign.

By Michael Klaus

MAPUTO, Mozambique, 7 November 2005 – Some 10,000 children joined the First Lady of Mozambique, Maria da Luz Dai Guebuza, in kicking off the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign in Mozambique. President Armando Guebuza and members of the cabinet also attended the colourful launch ceremony in Independence Square in the heart of Maputo.

Maria da Luz Dai Guebuza spoke passionately and with conviction: “We are shocked when we see what AIDS is doing to our children. We see young children who have to care for their elderly grandmothers because their own parents have already died. Many of our children cannot be children anymore - because of AIDS.” President Guebuza appealed to all Mozambicans to join the campaign, saying, “It’s a question of life and death. We have to regain our values, because no child should grow up without his or her family.”

© UNICEF Mozambique/2005/Klaus
Young people from Mozambique’s National Dance Company performed an educational dance on HIV/AIDS prevention. In the background is a mural produced by students of the School of Visual Arts, illustrating the impact of HIV/AIDS on their lives.

Among the other highlights was the performance of a group of 300 children, who wore different coloured t-shirts and came together in the centre of the Square to spell out part of the campaign name. Other children formed a huge AIDS ribbon in red and blue. (The campaign colours are red, often used in HIV/AIDS campaigning, and blue, signifying the impact of AIDS on children.)

In this country, about 470,000 children and young people under the age of 18 have already lost their mother, father or both parents to AIDS (source: SOWC).  At least 500,000 are caring for sick family members; the burden of giving care tends to make children much more vulnerable to malnutrition and exploitation.

















7 November 2005:
UNICEF correspondent John Allison reports on the launch of the UNITE FOR CHILDREN  UNITE AGAINST AIDS campaign in Mozambique.

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