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UNICEF Ambassador Hayley Westenra To Visit Ghana

UNICEF NZ (UN Children’s Fund) Media Release

UNICEF Ambassador Hayley Westenra to visit Ghana

Wellington, 19 September 2008. – UNICEF Ambassador Hayley Westenra will visit Ghana next week to see for herself the needs of some of the poorest children for safe water and education.

Hayley Westenra – who is UNICEF’s youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador and an internationally renowned New Zealand singer – will undertake a four-day programme in Ghana 23-26 September.

In rural Northern Ghana, Hayley will see firsthand the impact on children of drinking water infected with Guinea Worm. Once the water-borne parasites get into children’s bodies they can grow up to a metre in length and create painful swelling and blisters.

“Apart from the terrible pain and health effects involved, children’s normal lives are disrupted and their studies inevitably suffer,” says Hayley.

“I will be very interested to speak to young child victims of Guinea Worm and to be briefed about UNICEF plans to provide safe drinking water to pre-schools in one of the worst-affected areas.”

Hayley will also interact with children on water and hygiene education issues during visits to a number of kindergartens, as well as observing classes in action. UNICEF NZ support has helped boost the quality of education by training more than 140 kindergarten teachers and attendants – as part of a country-wide project – as well as providing reading kits and teaching materials.

A highlight of the programme for Hayley will be meeting some of the almost 6,000 girls living in deprived rural communities who have benefitted from receiving UNICEF bicycles. Hayley launched the UNICEF NZ-sponsored bikes for girls programme during her previous visit to Ghana in 2005.

“The bikes programme has proved a great success for girls who have to commute long distances from home to school.

“The bikes are a practical and cost effective way for girls to get to school quickly and safely, as well as boosting their school attendance rates and academic performance.

“I am very privileged to be able to return to Ghana and meet face to face with children who are struggling with difficulties every day that are almost unimaginable to people in Western countries.

“I see the trip as very much about raising awareness of the conditions for children in need and how people can support UNICEF’s work to improve children’s lives in Ghana.”

Hayley will be sharing her insights and experiences from Ghana in a daily video diary. The diary will be posted at the end of each day (Ghana time) between 23-26 September and accessible via www.unicef.org.nz. A selection of photos of the visit will also be available each day online.

ENDS

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