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Roger Federer praises progress in tsunami-affected district of India

CUDDALORE/INDIA , 22 December 2006 - On his first official field trip as a UNICEF  Goodwill  Ambassador,  ATP World number one Roger Federer today met with tsunami-affected children in Tamil Nadu in southern India.

The December 2004 tsunami took the lives of over 200,000 people, with India accounting for 18,000 dead or missing.   One-third of the victims were children. Tamil Nadu was the hardest hit state, with 8,000 dead, 351 severely-damaged child care centers and 186 destroyed schools. Three days before the second anniversary of the tsunami, Federer visited UNICEF's recovery and rehabilitation programmes in Cuddalore, one of the worst affected districts of Tamil Nadu.

"It's amazing to see how young people are using the rebuilding process as an opportunity to improve their lives and strengthen their community," said Federer.  "The way these children are bouncing back from even the toughest tragedy is a testament to their resiliency."

In Cuddalore, Federer met with children who have chairs and tables at school for the first time. Across the tsunami-hit districts of Tamil Nadu UNICEF has provided 330 schools with furniture and learning materials, which benefit around 140,000 children and 3,500 teachers. The improvements in their school include programmes to learn through participation rather than by rote and the use of puppet theatre to help them cope with post-tsunami trauma. Federer also met with UNICEF- trained early child care workers at one of the 351 restored government centres where pre-school children are able to get essential health care, nutrition supplements and informal early education. 

Along with District Collector Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, Federer visited the Cuddalore Orphanage.  UNICEF has helped to establish a tracking system to monitor around 2,000 children in Tamil Nadu who lost one or both parents in the tsunami, including those in the orphanage. As part of the tsunami psycho social support programme more than 114,000 children have been reached through counseling, art, puppetry and children's theatre.

"Many of the programmes we set up in the tsunami hit communities, such as education programmes and child protection interventions, will now serve as a model for the rest of the state to follow," said Thomas George, UNICEF State Representative, Tamil Nadu.  "Our focus has been to improve equity to services and to truly build back better for the children of Tamil Nadu."

Federer's day ended by meeting with teenagers who are learning about HIV through a life-skills programme that is giving them the practical information they need to make responsible decisions and spread awareness about the disease.

"It's great to see the young people so full of life and spirit. Despite what happened to their community, they have really managed to turn things around," said Federer.


Note to Editors

About Roger Federer:
ATP World Number 1 Tennis Player Roger Federer was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on 3 April 2006.  The nine-time Grand Slam champion first teamed up with UNICEF two years ago when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck.  In the disaster’s aftermath Federer led several fundraising initiatives including the ATP All-Star Rally for Relief, a unique exhibition tournament with proceeds benefiting UNICEF’s tsunami-relief programmes.  Federer is also the founder of The Roger Federer Foundation which focuses on disadvantaged children in South Africa.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

About UNICEF and ATP:

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and UNICEF are using the power of tennis to ensure the health, education and protection of children. ATP and UNICEF launched the ACE partnership, Assisting Children Everywhere in 2005.  ATP players, tournaments and fans support the ACE partnership through various communications and fundraising initiatives. ATP has enlisted some of the world’s top male tennis players to serve as global champions for children to lend their support to the ACE partnership in recorded testimonials, interviews and at fundraising events in and around ATP tournaments.

Attn broadcasters:
  Broadcast footage will be distributed via Reuters International and in downloadable, broadcast quality at: thenewsmarket.com/unicef
Photo will be available on the Reuters wire and at:  photo@unicef.org

For more information please contact:

Nicola Arzani,  ATP Senior Director, Communications: Tel + 33 616365932; narzani@atptennis.com
Davina Areyeh, ATP Director. Corporate Communications: Mobile + 1 904 314-3007; daryeh@atptennis.com

Meital Rusdia, Communication Officer, UNICEF India: Tel + 91 98 181 05861; mrusdia@unicef.org;
Gaurav Garg, Communication Officer, UNICEF India: Tel + 91 98 181 05904; ggarg@unicef.org;
Kate Donovan, UNICEF New York: Tel + 1  212 326 7452; kdonovan@unicef.org




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