Every year in the world, more than two million children die of hunger. Tom Hiddleston, as a junior ambassador for UNICEF has done an amazing thing, he found glorious purpose in helping others. After seeing Coriolanus recently, starring Hiddleston, I discussed the play with a friend. Throughout the performance there was giggling and fangirling in the audience. I felt they saw him more as a show monkey than a serious actor. My friend agreed and mentioned that because of his heartthrob status a lot of his good work was being overshadowed, especially here in the U.S. Good work? What good work? Sure he seems to be a nice guy, but what has he done for others? My friend pointed me to his work with UNICEF. One Google click and I found the image below. I had my heart ripped out and handed to me, first for the child in the photo, second for the fact that Hiddleston is helping to bring awareness to those who can't do it for themselves, like the little one in the photo.
Hiddleston did a 5 day trip for UNICEF to Guinea in West Africa. While there he spoke to local authorities, villagers, children, and all those in need. Upon landing in Africa, Hiddleston saw some children reading in a car park at night. "Across the road from the arrivals terminal was a car park littered with children. Islands of them. Not playing together. They were sitting on the ground: solitary and still. They were reading. Because, as Julien (UNICEF member) explained, that is one of the only safe places for them to learn. Here, there is electric streetlight for them to read by, and at night they don’t have do chores or to work. Some children walk for an hour just to sit on the ground in a car park to read" (http://blogs.unicef.org.uk). The problem here isn't the lack of drive, it's the lack of safety and structure nationally for these children. I think many of us believe they must be lazy, not want to work, but they do, they just don't have a means.
I think we all at some point have seen photos of emaciated children in impoverished countries. It's become as common place as the save the polar bear ads on TV. I'm not trying to down play either issue, but I think we have become desensitized to these issues because of the media. Reading Hiddleston's blog posts gave a real sense of the immediacy of the problem in West Africa. On a trip to a local hospital Hiddleston said, "Most shocking to me was the speed and urgency of their breathing, asleep or awake, but it was uniformly unsettled and uneven. When you see a child struggling so hard simply to breathe, it makes your heart hurt" (http://blogs.unicef.org.uk). UNICEF is doing a lot for these people by providing hospital supplies such as vaccinations. All the vaccinations in this region of the country are provided by UNICEF. Every single one. They are not provided by the state" (http://blogs.unicef.org.uk).
UNICEF is also helping to provide training for young adults, particularly those previously employed by the military. Many of these young adults were forced in to the military at 14 and 15 year old, boys and girls. "The Centre de Formation is providing them with a vocational two-year training programme that will give them a purpose and a source of income for the rest of their lives. Kankan needs plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and builders. These are the technicians who build a society. And they will build their own" (http://blogs.unicef.org.uk). Water is hard to come by in Guinea, a local said there was only one well near their village. The well is controlled by the military so they only have access to if for certain hours. It's also a good long walk away. This basic need that we take for granted is akin to a luxury for them.
Nutrition for children, as well as adults is also at issue. If the parents aren't eating properly, there's no way the children are. UNICEF is using radio as a means to get information like nutrition, breast feeding, and hygiene out to the public. "The eight-month-old boy that is tested registers on the border of the yellow and the red zones. He’s diagnosed moderately malnourished. And there is no water here. He’s only eight months old. The road ahead of this young boy is unimaginably steep" (http://blogs.unicef.org.uk). Unimaginably steep is exactly what it is. While most of us are dealing with issues of what college major to take, or maybe contemplating your career path, these people are dealing with the basics of living. Plain and simply, they are struggling just to live.
"What I learned in Guinea is that we are all responsible for the state of our world. All I can do now is help make people aware of what is happening, of what they are doing. That is all that I can do. For now." (http://blogs.unicef.org.uk)
Originally posted on Your Friend Elle