Listening to the village elders on the post-tsunami rehabilitation activities, Alyssa said ‘there is an opportunity to rebuild after damage and we will rebuild better.’
Delhi, 24 June 2005: UNICEF National Ambassador and popular U.S television actress, Alyssa Milano concluded her four day tour to India, which commenced on 22 June 2005. Her visit comes at a time when India marks the 6th month anniversary of the tsunami disaster that affected the lives of millions of children and families. She visited the worst-affected tsunami zones in Cuddalore district of South India to witness the relief and rehabilitation efforts.
“I am happy to see the kids healthy, singing and dancing. I expected to see a lot more heart ache. Human spirit is so amazing- especially the children’s spirit,” she said after her visit to Cuddalore. She visited Chinnur Pudupettai, a small village with a population of 1300, where she was welcomed by songs and skits performed by children, and put together by the UNICEF supported psycho-social youth volunteers. The underlying theme was of hope and aspiration. The entire village bore a festive look and it was heartening to see people moving on and away from the traumatic memories of tsunami.
Listening to the village elders on the post-tsunami rehabilitation activities, Alyssa said ‘there is an opportunity to rebuild after damage and we will rebuild better.’ She visited the UNICEF supported child care centre at the Chinnur Pudupettai temporary shelter. She sang and danced with the children and interacted with the volunteers at the centre. Alyssa was invited into the home of tsunami victims Desapaatu and Muthu who shared their experience with her.
On her arrival at the Chinnur Pudupettai School she was given a traditional Indian welcome by the students and the community. Mr Ekambaram, the head master of the elementary school, introduced Alyssa to the teachers.
Accompanied by MTV DJ Cyrus Broacha on the visits, Alyssa said, “the healing process has begun- children are in school and back to normal life’.
She appreciated UNICEF efforts in the rehabilitation process.
Alyssa also called on Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, the head of the district administration and conveyed her appreciation of the efforts taken by the Government.
As a part of her visit to India, Alyssa Milano also met children and families in Maharashtra who have been affected by HIV/AIDS and called for an end to discrimination and stigma towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
“I am happy to see the kids healthy, singing and dancing. Human spirit is so amazing- especially the children’s spirit”
It’s always been a dream of mine to come to India and see UNICEF’s work in the area of education, healthcare and HIV. These programmes which touch the lives of so many children are a hope for a bright future. HIV/ AIDS doesn’t discriminate, it’s a social issue that affects all levels of age, status & gender.” On her visit to Amravati, she attended SPARSH Programme (HIV Education & Life Skills programme for school youth) organized by UNICEF. The focus was primarily on educating & spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS, as India has the second highest infection rate in the world.
In Maharashtra, Alyssa joined a UNICEF team on a school visit in Mumbai, where she shared information on adolescence and growing up with school children. “These developing young minds learn much more than only prevention from HIV. They are at a stage where they are motivated to spreading awareness, so that their generation has the strongest chance to reduce the incidence of HIV,” she said.
Her itinerary included a stop at the Kishori Adolescent empowerment project at Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia. Alyssa interacted with the peer educators working with and training adolescent girls. “It was inspiring to see adolescent girls having derived such high self esteem through this programme; the confidence in their ability to communicate will empower their present and future. These girls were energized not just to learn but also to spread knowledge to other young people,” said Alyssa after interacting with the girls.