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January 10, 2005: West African youth participated in a webchat on December 22nd; they focused on one health problem that is on the rise in the region, polio.

Danielle, 13, lives in Benin. She participated in UNICEF's VOY web chat
BENIN/CAMEROON/NEW YORK, 17 January--Danielle, 13, and Rodrique, 19, are both in school and live with their families.  Danielle lives in Benin, and Rodrique, in Cameroon.  What do they have in common?  A desire to help educate their people, especially young children and their parents, about polio.   

Danielle lives with her mother and brothers and sisters in a quiet neighborhood in Benin. She participated in the December 22 web chat about polio, put together by UNICEF’s Voices of Youth. She liked the web chat a lot. “The subject [polio] is really important and current. Polio is a social problem. It’s a loss for society,” she says.

Young people from throughout Francophone West Africa got together to discuss this issue. It's relevant to their lives because polio, which has for decades been almost globally eradicated, is on the rise in some West African countries.

Danielle quoted these statistics: “In Benin there were no cases [of polio] in 2001, but in 2003, there were four cases, and in 2004 there were six cases.” Numbers like these may sound insignificant, but when we’re talking about polio, they signal a serious danger.


Rodrique, 19, lives in Cameroon. He participated in UNICEF's VOY web chat

The participants like Danielle chatted about their own experiences, learned about the situations in other countries, and tried to come up with solutions. Rodrique believes that this new knowledge he has gained from the webchat will be useful to him long after he logs off and this chat ends. “I learned a lot about symptoms, vaccination, and how to organize and educate people,” he said. “I will definitely talk to my friends and brothers and sisters about this.”

And the web chat also affirmed something for Rodrique – that his chosen career path, to be a musician, is a good one. “I have a really strong passion for music. I choose music because its one of the most important ways to connect people.

And you can help people with music, and raise awareness about things, like polio.” The web chat took place as a Voices of Youth event. Today, January 10th, is polio day, a day to raise awareness around the globe about polio. To learn more about what Danielle and Rodrique had to say about polio in their countries, listen to the complete UNICEF Radio piece, featuring interviews with them.




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