Date Published: 26 September 2007
UNICEF and FC Barcelona unite for children in Geneva
UNICEF and Futbol Club Barcelona renewed the second year of their five year partnership with the handing over of this season’s team jersey bearing the UNICEF name and a pledge to give a further 1.5 million Euros for children.
In 2006 FC Barcelona donated 1.5 million Euros to UNICEF. These funds were used to help children affected by AIDS in Swaziland, the country with the highest estimated HIV rate in the world.
“ At FC Barcelona, we are aware of the global dimension of soccer. The increasing number of FC Barcelona supporters and fans around the world in the last few years has been spectacular. The club has an obligation to respond to this enormous positive wave. The best way to do so is by using soccer as a tool to bring hope to millions of vulnerable children in need around the world”, said Mr. Joan Laporta, President of Futbol Club Barcelona.
UNICEF in Swaziland has used the funds to acquire laboratory equipment for testing blood samples and drugs for prophylaxis and anti-retroviral treatment. A community mobilization campaign was launched to improve utilisation of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission services and twenty three new Neighbourhood Care Points were established reaching more than 1,000 children.
Neighbourhood Care Points help protect orphans and vulnerable children in Swaziland. They are like a home away from home where children receive psycho – social support, nutrition, non-formal education and basic health care. Additionally, they make orphaned and vulnerable children visible by creating awareness about their needs among community members, service providers, national leaders, civil society and international donors.
The funds have also been used to train eight hundred and eighty five community members as care givers to work in the Neighbourhood Care Points. Lastly, five thousand school children have had training in Life-skills Education and Sports and taken part in sports activities in 68 schools.
To add to the impact of the HIV epidemic, severe drought hit Swaziland this year. More than 60% of households in the country have no access to safe drinking water or adequate sanitation. The drought threatens to increase this number. Children are at greater risk of contracting diseases due to unclean water or poor sanitation. With support from FC Barcelona, UNICEF and government worked to improve access to safe and sufficient water for children. The lives of 5,000 children were significantly improved by the drilling of boreholes and provision of sanitation facilities at rural schools. These interventions provide children with access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities that will help prevent the spread of water-born diseases.
“ Over the past year we have seen how much potential the partnership with FC Barcelona can bring,” said Philip O’ Brien, UNICEF’s Director in Europe.
“ From Angola to Brazil, the Barcelona football team, with its branded UNICEF jerseys, has reached out to millions of people and delivered a message for children. I hope over the next 12 months we can really capitalise on the partnership and reach out to many more, uniting people to help improve the lives of the most vulnerable children.”
UNICEF is working to support the Government of Swaziland to tackle HIV/AIDS on many fronts. The country is estimated to have the highest adult HIV prevalence rate in the world. In 2006, 39.2 per cent of women seen at antenatal clinics tested positive for HIV. Less than 12 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women are receiving the drugs necessary to protect their newborns from contracting the virus.
“ The assistance from Barcelona is a timely investment in the national response to the HIV epidemic, said Jama Gulaid, UNICEF Representative in Swaziland.
“ It is already touching the lives of Swazi children in multiple ways - improving access to prevention, rapid diagnosis of HIV, live-skills education through sports, birth registration, water, and sanitation. UNICEF Swaziland is proud to team up with Barca in a struggle against a ravaging disease. In our team, we need more winners like Barcelona to give children a fighting chance in this country.”
In addition to the yearly donation, FCB has featured the UNICEF logo on their football jersey and this has now been extended for one more season. Barcelona is one of the most beloved and accomplished teams in professional soccer. More than 60 million fans follow its exploits, and it has earned 57 major national and international titles. For UNICEF it is a donation that will remind football fans everywhere of the importance of putting children first.
The Club’s social and humanitarian dimension is leaded by its foundation, “Fundació Futbol Club Barcelona”, which is committed to social, cultural and educational activities in Catalonia. The Foundation has expanded internationally during the last few years under its motto “More than a Club in the World.”
Source: UNICEF Main Website.
See also UNICEF Online Gift Shop