Ireland backs UNICEF campaign to help children with HIV/AIDS
Ireland has become the first country in the world to ensure that up to 20% of its overseas aid budget on HIV/AIDS goes to projects aimed at children.
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made the announcement at the launch of a new global campaign by the UN children's agency, UNICEF, to reduce the impact of the disease on youngsters.
The campaign is called "Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS" and was backed by UNICEF Ireland Ambassadors Stephen Rea and Samantha Mumba who were present and Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson who sent a special video message of support.
FILM star Liam Neeson yesterday warned celebrities such as Madonna and Angelina Jolie not to adopt babies from Africa.
The Ballymena-born actor confessed he once considered adopting African children himself - and even argued with actress wife Natasha Richardson over the issue.
While visiting impoverished children in Mozambique for Unicef Ireland, father-of-two Neeson said he thought about saving an orphaned child from poverty.
He added: "It was something I considered when I was there but to be honest with you, I have a lot of issues with taking a child away from its parents if they are alive, its culture, its country."
The controversy over celebrities adopting babies from developing countries hit the headlines last year when Madonna adopted one-year-old Malawian David Banda.
Angelina Jolie has also adopted her son Maddox from Cambodia and daughter Zahara from Ethiopia.
Neeson, 54, the longest serving ambassador for Unicef Ireland, made the comments in Dublin while celebrating the organisation's 10th year of fundraising.
In partnership with Aer Lingus - whose staff collect small change for the Change For Good campaign - the charity has raised more than o6.25million for the world's poorest children.
Neeson said he was proud of his role but stressed nothing could have prepared him for his visit to Mozambique two years ago. Almost 800,000 children have been orphaned by the Aids epidemic there.
Despite finding it difficult to adjust to normal life after witnessing such deprivation, he is planning another field trip with friend and fellow Irishman Pierce Brosnan this year.
He said: "For the first couple of days it's certainly hard. I certainly hug my two boys tighter than I normally would before a trip.
"It's terribly humbling and makes me realise that whatever the celebrity status one has it is a currency, as Bono regularly says, and it can be used to focus attention on to my thing which is mother-to-child HIV prevention."
Unicef Ireland executive director Maura Quinn said: "Small change can, and does, make lasting change in a child's life.
"Aids is redefining the meaning of childhood for millions of children around the world."
Aer Lingus chief executive Dermot Mannion said: "Aer Lingus looks forward to continuing the campaign which offers invaluable assistance to the world's most disadvantaged children."
Post by respectanimals on Jan 14, 2007 11:05:33 GMT -5
In a time where the antics of celebrities like Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson seem to be all that anyone wants to talk about, it's really nice to read articles like this. My local radio station actually has a daily contest to guess which celebrity will get bad publicity next, so it's very refreshing when the media actually focuses their attention on celebrities like Pierce and Liam, who realize the great amount of good they can do in the world with their celebrity status, and take that responsibility seriously. They not only seem to be able to behave themselves and stay out of jail, but they commit their money, their names and their time to many great causes. I wish other celebrities would follow their example.
Thanks for sharing this article ACE. Liam sounds like a really great guy! I hope we get to hear more about their trip.
Post by sparklingblue on Jan 14, 2007 18:05:13 GMT -5
"It was something I considered when I was there but to be honest with you, I have a lot of issues with taking a child away from its parents if they are alive, its culture, its country."
Despite all the sincere compassion I feel towards the children of Africa, I agree with Liam. Yes, the adopted kids will have better lives, but will they ever feel at home? Will their parents be able to give them a sense of their own cultural heritage?