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UNICEF’s longest serving Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi re-visits South Sudan after 2 decades

JUBA, 14 March 2013 – Today, UNICEF South Sudan is buzzing with excitement as UNICEF’s longest serving Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi also known as Totto Chan landed in the country.

Madam Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is one of Japan’s best-known actresses and most popular television personalities who joined UNICEF as Goodwill Ambassador in 1984. Tetsuko is back to South Sudan after 20 years.

"I am so excited to be back in this region, and this time I am back in the world's newest country,” said an elated Madam Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

Tetsuko last came to South Sudan in 1993 where she visited various UNICEF supported projects focusing on health, education, water and sanitation in Juba and Upper Nile state.

After her visit, Tetsuko helped to fundraise and advocate for the women and children of South Sudan and through her generous support, the Totto Chan Centre was built to help children traumatized by war.

Since 2011, almost 600 children affected by armed conflict, demobilized from armed forces, separated and unaccompanied, returnees, abducted, and other vulnerable children have benefitted from services offered at the centre which include; psycho-social support, interim accommodation and care, family tracing and reunification and welfare support.

“We are very happy to receive our Goodwill Ambassador Tetsuko Kuroyanagi from one of our largest donor countries whose generous contribution helped to build the Totto Chan Centre and other much needed programmes,” said UNICEF’s Officer-in-Charge Pelucy Ntambirweki.

Tetsuko will be on a week-long visit in South Sudan where she will interact with women and children benefitting from UNICEF supported project sites in Juba and Western Equatoria State.

“I'm looking forward to meeting children to see how much they are enjoying their childhood,” said Tetsuko.

In the past 11 years, Japan has made a total contribution of more than US$67 million to UNICEF South Sudan. In 2013 alone, Japan pledged US$13 million for a range of projects that include nutrition, health, education, protection, water, sanitation and hygiene.

“My heart goes out to the women and children of South Sudan who endure harsh realities. Their daily lives really need to improve after more than two decades of war. I’m glad that our country has been supporting the newest nation even before its independence,” concluded Tetsuko. 



About Tetsuko Kuroyanagi:

  • UNICEF Goodwill Ambassdor, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, is one of Japan’s best-known actresses and most popular television personalities. Her nick name is “Totto-chan.”
  • Born in Tokyo, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi is the daughter of a celebrated violinist. She majored in opera at the Tokyo College of Music and then trained in theatre at Tokyo’s Bungakuza Theatre and in New York at the Mary Tarcai Studio.
  • After her trip to Sudan, Tetsuko offered a generous donation to UNICEF, with which UNICEF established a “Center for War-Traumatized Children” in Juba 17 years ago, what we now call “the Totto-chan Center.” 
  • Tetsuko has been a host of “Tetsuko’s Room” for 37 years, the first-ever talk show on Japanese television and one of the world’s longest running television shows. The number of the guests she has interviewed for the show is estimated to be more than 10,000.
  • Tetsuko is also a writer of more than 20 books. Her childhood memoir, “Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window,” has sold more 7.5 million copies in Japanese and it remains Japan’s biggest bestseller. The book has been translated and published in 33 countries.
  • The international success of Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window led to her appointment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1984, when late James Grant, former Executive Director of UNICEF, read the book and contacted Tetsuko through their mutual friend, Ms. Sadako Ogata.
  • With 29 years of her devoted contribution to UNICEF, Tetsuko is the longest serving active UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
  • On behalf of UNICEF, she has visited some of the world’s most volatile countries in Asia and Africa, including Cambodia, Angola, Iraq, Rwanda, Afghanistan and Liberia, where civil wars or natural disasters threaten child development and survival.

For more information, please contact:

Siddartha (Sid) Shrestha|+211(0) 925007005/955866307|

Mercy Kolok|+211(0) 955639658|



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