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Shakira visits cyclone affected areas and UNICEF education projects in rural Bangladesh

DHAKA, December 19 2007 - Celebrated international musician and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira visited Bangladesh between December 17 and 19 to see for herself the post-cyclone Sidr reconstruction efforts and UNICEF education projects.

The two time Grammy Award Winning internationally acclaimed singer and song-writer from Colombia, Shakira participated in the cyclone response efforts of UNICEF and its partners.

In the cyclone-ravaged area of Mirajgonj under Patuakhali, she visited the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) developed for displaced and psychologically imperiled children and participated in the distribution of family kits and warm clothes among them.

“I m sorry for what happened to you,” she said as she hugged children and women during her visit to the Sidr-affected areas listening intently to their stories, “but things will get better again. I admire your resilience and your patience and how much you still have to give when you have so little for yourselves.” 

Eleven year old Neepa, who lost both parents to the cyclone sang to Shakira and said she wanted to be a singer like her when she grows up. She told Shakira that the UNICEF school she visits is the one source of happiness and stability she has during this difficult time.

“I came to Bangladesh to see the impact of the cyclone and to learn about UNICEF’s approach to education,” said Shakira, “we visited a variety of education programs, and I came away with a clear sense that education is a powerful tool to improve people’s lives.  By making a small investment in these children we can give them the opportunity they deserve—and we can build a better, safer world.”

She also visited UNICEF-assisted Education and Child Protection projects which included pre- and primary schools run by BRAC, adolescent empowerment ‘Kishori Abhijan’ project. Besides, the international music megastar also visited one learning centre under Basic Education for Hard-to-Reach Urban Working Children (BEHTRUWC) project and one girls’ drop-in-centre for Protection of Children at Risk (PCAR) project in Rajshahi and two villages in the district.

Joining as UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2003 at the age of 26, Shakira was the youngest among a world-class roster of celebrities who embraced UNICEF through the years, dating back to Danny Kaye more than 50 years ago and continuing today with more than 100 stars from the world of films, music, sports and literature. 
Other past and present UNICEF ambassadors include Audrey Hepburn, Harry Belafonte, Roger Moore, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Lange and Mia Farrow. Famous musicians such as George Harrison, Cat Stevens and Robbie Williams have also been associated with UNICEF.    

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.

For more information, please contact
Zafrin J Chowdhury, Communication Officer, UNICEF, Dhaka: Tel + 880 2 9336701-10 Ex. 397; zjchowdhury@unicef.org





December 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on Goodwill Ambassador Shakira’s visit with cyclone-affected women and children in rural Bangladesh.
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