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At a glance: Viet Nam

UNICEF and 'Viet Nam’s Next Top Model' form a unique partnership for children

By Sandra Bisin and Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong

HO CHI MINH CITY, Viet Nam, 21 January 2011 – Finalists of the popular television show ‘Viet Nam’s Next Top Model’ recently paid a visit to a very special pagoda where children affected by HIV and their families are receiving support and counselling from Buddhist monks and nuns. It was their first stop on a tour of UNICEF-supported projects in Viet Nam.

VIDEO: 18 January 2011 - UNICEF reports on a partnership with the TV show, 'Viet Nam's Next Top Model,' to raise awareness about important children's issues.  Watch in RealPlayer


One of the finalists, Khieu Thi Huyen Trang, 20, later talked about her conversation with a mother who is living with HIV.

“She told me she still has not told the schoolteacher that her daughter is HIV-positive, because she is afraid of people’s reactions,” said Ms. Khou. “She knows they will not allow her to go back to school. I would like to tell everyone that children affected by HIV need support from us and should be cared for by everyone.”

© UNICEF/Viet Nam/2011/Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
From left: 'Next Top Model' finalists Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan and Khieu Thi Huyen Trang, together with UNICEF Viet Nam Goodwill Ambassador Vu Nguyen Ha Anh, who hosts the TV show.

Understanding the issues

As part of a unique partnership with the ‘Next Top Model’ programme, UNICEF Viet Nam took the three finalists – all of whom are 20 years old – on a two-day journey through Ho Chi Minh City and Ninh Thuan Province in southern Viet Nam.

The trip gave the young women a better understanding of some of the key factors affecting children’s lives in Viet Nam today. They were familiarized with a broad range of issues, including the importance of hygiene and sanitation to ensure children’s health, the impact of prenatal sex selection on Viet Nam’s population and the value of exclusive breastfeeding.

© UNICEF/Viet Nam/2011/Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
One of the three 'Next Top Model' finalists, Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, 20, at a UNICEF-supported day-care centre for children affected by HIV in a pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.

‘An eye-opener for me’

“I learnt many interesting things, especially about exclusive breastfeeding,” said finalist Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy. “Now, I know that breast milk is best for children and they should only be fed with breast milk in the first six months of their lives – only breast milk, not anything else, not even water. It’s an eye-opener for me, and I am confident that I will breastfeed my babies when I get married and I have children.”

Getting mothers to breastfeed their babies is still a critical need in Viet Nam, where only 17 per cent of infants are exclusively breastfed.

“Hearing from ‘Viet Nam’s Next Top Model’ finalists that exclusive breastfeeding is a good thing – that it is a lot cheaper than using formula milk and will contribute to keeping babies healthy – is a big sign of achievement,” said UNICEF Representative in Viet Nam Lotta Sylwander. “We know that their message will be broadcast and listened to by millions of viewers.”

© UNICEF/Viet Nam/2011/Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong
'Next Top Model' finalists and UNICEF Viet Nam Goodwill Ambassador Vu Nguyen Ha Anh at a gathering in Ninh Thuan Province.

Messages of hope

The third finalist on the trip was Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan. The host of the ‘Next Top Model’ show, who travelled with the finalists, is UNICEF Viet Nam Goodwill Ambassador and international supermodel Vu Nguyen Ha Anh.

“With her commitment and understanding of children’s issues, Ha Anh will fantastically carry the right messages and bring hope to millions of children,” said Ms. Sylwander, “We hope that following the field trip with UNICEF, and interactions with children receiving our assistance, Viet Nam’s next top model will be willing to continue supporting our work and follow in the footsteps of our Goodwill Ambassador.”



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