On Friday - December 4th, Actress and UNICEF Ambassador Alyssa Milano visited the UNT campus to help honor UNT's UNICEF chapter as the winner of the 2008-2009 Campus Challenge. Milano also sat down for a one-on-one interview with ntTV News Reporter Trey Friedrichs and Photojournalist Noah Sargent.
Am Freitag den 4. Dezember besuchte Alyssa Milano, Schauspielerin und UNICEF-Botschafter, den UNT Campus, (mittel teil wusste ich nicht wie ich es schreiben sollte. hab ich nicht so ganz verstanden). Mailand setzte sich auch für eine Eins-zu-eins-Interview mit ntTV News Reporter Trey Friedrichs und Fotojournalist Noah Sargent.
For University of North Texas senior Marcelo Ostria, volunteering for UNICEF isn’t about recognition or rewards — it’s about educating the world on basic humanitarian needs.
But recognition is what Ostria and other members of the campus UNICEF chapter received Friday night.
Actress and UNICEF ambassador Alyssa Milano visited UNT to congratulate the volunteers on winning the humanitarian organization’s campus challenge for 2008-09 year by raising $4,620 toward the campaign’s overall goal of $150,000.
“We had the desire and passion to make a difference, which translated to the entire campus community being enthusiastic about helping out,” said Ostria, president of the campus chapter of UNICEF.
To win the challenge, Ostria and others organized two benefit concerts featuring local talent — one in the fall semester and another in the spring — and a raffle.
During the challenge, UNT volunteers were able to educate Denton residents about the importance of saving a child’s life — not only through food and water, but with education and immunizations, Ostria said.
“UNICEF saves the most lives, period,” he said. “Once people know, they can’t ignore its importance. They improve the quality of a child’s life and the child’s future.”
Along with a plaque, Milano presented the UNT chapter with a check for $4,620 in matching funds from the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF.
Despite having a cold, Milano was available to the Denton Record-Chronicle Friday night to discuss her experience working as an ambassador for UNICEF and the challenges facing the organization.
Question: What are some of the things you do as a UNICEF ambassador?
Answer: The thing I love to do is go out and do field work — it would be very easy for me to talk about statistics — but I don’t know how to extend a passionate plea to get help if you don’t have some hands-on experience in the field.
I went to Angola [in Africa] two years after the peace treaty was signed and educated myself on the land mine situation, which was there was one land mine for every child [in the country].
Q: What are some issues you saw in Angola that Americans are unaware of?
A: Angola was a unique situation because of the war, which was the largest civil war in African history; there was no financial infrastructure. In Rwanda, there were 3 million people living that had no food and water … no sanitation. …
Q: So, it’s the worst living conditions a person can imagine?
A: Yes, it’s the definitely the worst thing I’ve experienced. There was only a single road in and out of the country, which actually wound up being a good thing because you didn’t really see the high HIV rates in Angola at the same pace as other African countries.
UNICEF is doing mass education programs. … We’re working to get rid of stigma that can come along with that [HIV/AIDS].
Q: How important is it for UNICEF to educate in their humanitarian efforts?
A: Health and education are probably two of the most important things for any child anywhere in the world.
For UNICEF, the proof is in the pudding. They’ve done such an amazing job, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
It’s hard when you’re dealing with nations where 80 percent of the population lives in villages. Getting information to people is very difficult, and so grass-roots programs are really important.
Q: What did you see in your humanitarian efforts in India after the 2004 tsunami?
A: I saw a lot of devastation, but I saw a lot of resilience and hope — maybe it was because it was six months afterwards, which was enough time for people to mourn their losses and they were ready to come back.
The thing I’ve learned throughout my humanitarian endeavors is that people are really resilient no matter where they are, and they never lose their capacity to hope for a brighter tomorrow, especially with the children, because they don’t know any different. They can only hope for more.
Q: What changes have you noticed throughout your six years as an ambassador for UNICEF?
A: The child mortality rates have improved, and what I’ve found has changed is that when I started with UNICEF, there were certain issues that weren’t really, I guess, sexy to talk about, meaning clean water and sanitation.
Those issues were really hard to raise funds for. If it was between someone giving money to clean water and sanitation or HIV awareness and education, it seems like people always gravitated towards the more … the only word I can think of right now is sexy, the sexier issues. No one wants to deal with sanitation.
I think they’ve [UNICEF] done a good job in the last three or four years really educating the public on how important clean water and sanitation is. It’s really the difference between life and death.