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South Africa

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Laurence Fishburne reaches out to children affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa

© UNICEF South Africa/2004/Antoine De Ras
Mr. Fishburne offers a pair of broad shoulders to children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Pinetown, near Durban, Kwa -Zulu Natal Province, South Africa. Kwa Zulu Natal province has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in the country.
SOUTH AFRICA, 21 June 2004 – There are many sides to South Africa. On the one hand, there is South Africa’s superb infrastructure, beautiful scenery and democratic, multi-cultural society. On the other hand, there is the South Africa that is poor and unemployed, suffering the colossal impact of HIV/AIDS and the scourge of violence and abuse directed at women and children.

Laurence Fishburne, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, along with the President of the US Fund for UNICEF, Charles Lyons, and its Senior Vice President, Ron Gibbs, managed to experience both sides of South Africa during their recent whistle-stop tour.

© UNICEF South Africa/2004/Antoine De Ras
Mr. Fishburne (center), accompanied by Chip Lyons (first from right), president of the US Fund for UNICEF visits UNICEF supported Pinetown Family Welfare Project located in peri-urban Kwa Zulu Natal province, South Africa.
The tour took them from Johannesburg – an industrialized, commercialized media hub – to Soweto, then to Durban and parts of Pinetown in KwaZulu Natal province, which has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in the country.

Mr. Fishburne used his visit as an opportunity to speak to non-governmental organizations concerned with the HIV/AIDS crisis, media representatives and government officials. Most importantly, he visited and spoke with children and their families. The tour included visits to UNICEF-assisted projects supporting orphans and other vulnerable children, where HIV/AIDS peer educators counsel young people to help prevent the spread of the disease.

© UNICEF South Africa/2004/Antoine De Ras
Laurence Fishburne (second from left) is joined by Chip Lyons, president of the US Fund for UNICEF listening to children talk about their lives in a classroom at the Ngwekazi Primary School in Soweto, near Johannesburg, South Africa. The school supports
Mr. Fishburne visited a Soul Buddyz Club in Pimville, Soweto, attending a media roundtable hosted by South African Broadcasting Corp., the major public broadcasting system in the region. He also helped launch a UNICEF-supported journalist’s handbook, which provides guidance on using a rights-based approach for reporting on children.

The young South Africans inspired Mr. Fishburne with their many positive, creative activities. Visiting Moorlands Primary School, he was impressed with the children’s initiative in proposing their own solutions for preventing violence against girls in their province of KwaZulu Natal.

Throughout his trip, Mr. Fishburne gained first-hand knowledge regarding the challenges posed by the complex nature of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. “If South Africans can overcome apartheid, they can overcome the tragedy of HIV/AIDS," he said.



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21 June 2004: Laurence Fishburne visits South Africa.

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