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NBA star and Goodwill Ambassador Pau Gasol visits HIV-affected children in Angola

UNICEF Image: Angola, Pau Gasol
© UNICEF Angola/2007
Over 2,000 children gathered in Luanda's Cidadela Stadium to greet NBA star Pau Gasol.

MADRID/LUANDA, Angola, 18 July 2007 — National Basketball Association superstar and UNICEF Spain Goodwill Ambassador Pau Gasol recently visited Angola to see firsthand the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS and UNICEF’s programmes to support children and families affected by the disease.

One of Mr. Gasol’s very first visits was to the Luanda Children's Hospital. Accompanied by hospital staff and the UNICEF Angola team, he met with children and their mothers. Mr. Gasol was saddened to see many children hospitalized with illnesses such as malaria, malnutrition, meningitis and HIV/AIDS.

“It is extremely hard to witness children's suffering here," he said, “especially in some cases when this is due to preventable causes.”

UNICEF Image: Angola, Pau Gasol
© UNICEF Angola/2007
As part of his visit, Goodwill Ambassador Pau Gasol played basketball with children at a primary school on the outskirts of Luanda.

'Life is stronger than AIDS'

In the afternoon, Mr. Gasol received a thunderous welcome from more than 2,000 children gathered at Cidadela Stadium in Luanda. The children were there to participate in an important event in the runup to the Afrobasket Tournament, which will take place in Angola in August. With UNICEF’s support, the tournament will feature an HIV/AIDS prevention theme that is expected to draw a lot of attention from Angolan youth.

Mr. Gasol also met with HIV peer educators in Caxito, the capital of Bengo Province, and played basketball with students at a primary school on the outskirts of Luanda. Children of all ages were excited to see the star and gave him a warm welcome wherever he went. His visit received widespread coverage in the Angolan media, providing a great opportunity to draw attention to the issue of HIV/AIDS and the efforts of UNICEF and its partners.

Concluding his trip, Mr. Gasol had a parting message for the young people he met in Angola. "When I come back I hope to find more basketball fans leading the fight against HIV/AIDS," he said, "because life is stronger than AIDS!"




18 July 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on NBA star and Goodwill Ambassador Pau Gasol’s visit to Angola.
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