UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham has traveled to Swaziland to see how 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund is helping UNICEF to support and protect HIV positive children. During his visit, David saw how the worst drought in decades – now taking hold of vast swathes of Eastern and Southern Africa - is threatening to wreak havoc on the lives of children and families already made vulnerable by HIV.
During his visit to Swaziland, the country with the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, David met mothers and children living with HIV. He saw how his fund is helping UNICEF provide children with life-saving treatment and care and learned how over the next three years the 7 Fund is committed to contributing 27% of UNICEF Swaziland’s annual budget for HIV / AIDS.
David meets Sebenele, 14, who receives support from 7 Fund to help HIV positive children with malnutrition.
“Last year I launched my own Fund with UNICEF because I wanted to help build a safer world for children,” David said. “I feel very proud to be in Swaziland to see how the money raised through the 7 Fund is helping to keep vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS healthy and safe. Many of the children I met, some of whom were the same age as my own children, had lost one or both parents to AIDS and are themselves now living with HIV. As a father of four, it was hard to hear their stories about the daily challenges they face, which are now being made so much worse by this devastating drought.”
David added: “Children who are already incredibly vulnerable because of HIV are now at risk from a new crisis that could have a devastating impact on their lives. Across Eastern and Southern Africa millions of children are at risk from hunger, water shortages and disease. I am speaking out for these children to make sure they are not forgotten at a time when they desperately need our help. I’m urging the global community to do all it can to help UNICEF deliver the life-saving food, medicine and clean water that these children desperately need.”
A series of climatic shocks in 2014 and 2015 ruined harvests and depleted water sources, with one of the most powerful El Nino weather events in 50 years exacerbating drought across the region. The scale of the current crisis is unprecedented with food crises happening across 10 countries in the region, affecting 26 million children.
UNICEF is working across the region to reduce the impact of the drought and provide life-saving humanitarian assistance.
© Photos: Unicef/Modola/2016