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American Singer Clay Aiken Visits Afghan Schools

UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador and former star of American Idol Clay Aiken visited Afghanistan to create awareness about the promise of hope for the youth of this war-torn country.

Aiken visited schools in Kabul and the central province of Bamyan with the country’s representative for UNICEF Catherine Mbengue and Aiken’s own former teacher Mary Props.

“As a former teacher, I recognize that spark of hope and excitement all children possess when given the opportunity to learn,” said Aiken. “Rebuilding schools, training teachers, providing essential supplies and teaching materials are just some of the advances UNICEF and its partners have made to keep that hope flourishing.”

Aiken was elated to learn that over six million children are “piling into broken down buildings and UNICEF tents everyday to catch up on the lessons they have missed out on for years. That’s if they are lucky. Many, if not most, haven’t even the luxury of a tent. Just a dusty ground outside in one of the world’s most beautifully scenic landscapes. And still, they come to class. Many walk for miles; for hours…I have never in my life seen such a thirst and excitement for learning, seeing children, women, men, boys and girls to be so excited about learning, to be so excited about being in school. The people are perhaps its most valuable natural resource,” he said.

In Afghanistan, UNICEF has distributed teaching and learning materials to 2.71 million children and 61,780 teachers, supported Mobile School Protection Teams in 34 provinces, and trained 614 teacher trainers as well as 8,110 newly recruited female teachers, among other projects.

UNICEF Representative Catherine Mbengue summarized the trip at a press conference with the singer, “UNICEF is committed to reach out to all the children in Afghanistan and provide quality education…We talked about poverty reduction, conflict resolution; please remember that poverty reduction starts with children. Conflict resolution starts with children. More children are going to schools, more children are going for vaccinations, more women go to literacy courses and we have recognized that. We have to tell that story and tell the world that children of this country are the beginning of this country. If we invest in them, lots of problems are going to be solved.”

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

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