UNICEF Canada

UNICEF Canada

April 24, 2008 10:00 ET

UNICEF Marks World Malaria Day With Children's Photo Exhibit in Canada

Children's photos from Liberia and Rwanda document the scourge of malaria and poverty

TORONTO, ONTARIO and CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - April 24, 2008) - Equipped with new cameras and their unique perspective, dozens of children in Liberia and Rwanda have been documenting their lives by taking photographs of their families and communities for UNICEF's EYE SEE III project. Eye See III is being launched in Calgary, Alberta on April 25 to commemorate World Malaria Day 2008.

"Over the years UNICEF has come to realize that photography is one of the best ways of enabling children to give us their own very unique insight into their daily lives. This exhibit offers Canadians a rare glimpse into the toll that malaria takes on the lives of African families," said UNICEF Canada President & CEO Nigel Fisher. "The burden of malaria is unacceptable and avoidable because it is both preventable and curable through medicines, $10 bed nets and education."

Over the course of two weeks, children aged 9 to 15 captured images using state-of-the art digital cameras donated by Sony Corporation. The on-the-ground photography was preceded by technical workshops led by internationally-renown photographer and frequent UNICEF contributor Giacomo Pirozzi.

The best of several thousand images captured will be displayed in separate exhibits in Canada, Japan, Liberia, Rwanda and elsewhere. The purpose of the project is to share the art of photography with children and provide them with a compelling and fun tool to capture their lives around them. While the focus was malaria - which kills an African child every 30 seconds - the young photographers also documented subjects related to water, poverty and conflict.

In Canada, Eye See III is being launched in Calgary, Alberta to raise awareness and funding for insecticide-treated bed nets through Spread the Net, a campaign co-founded by Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer. Working in partnership with UNICEF Canada, Spread the Net aims to raise funds for 500,000 anti-malarial mosquito bed nets at $10 each for children in Liberia and Rwanda.

The Eye See III exhibit will be launched at HD Cartwright Junior High School to mark their outstanding fundraising efforts for the Spread the Net campaign in Alberta. Olympic gold medalist and 2008 world silver medalist Hayley Wickenheiser will attend launch.

UNICEF remains the world's largest procurer of bed nets, purchasing nearly 60 million nets since 2005. With the support of national and international partners, UNICEF is helping to save children's lives by distributing nets and providing medicines in countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda.

In Ethiopia, UNICEF has procured more than 18 million long-lasting insecticide-treated nets since 2005, and helped plan and provide support for mass distribution. Canada contributed more than $12 million to UNICEF in 2006-2007 and supported the distribution of 1.5 million nets to Ethiopian children. In 2006, UNICEF also provided long-lasting bed nets to more than 1.3 million children in Rwanda.

With increased access to bed nets in combination with improved delivery of medicine (artemisinin-based combination therapies), there has been significant progress in Ethiopia and Rwanda; malaria deaths have declined by more than 50 per cent. However, while there has been much progress, more than one million people around the world still die of malaria every year. In Africa alone, malaria is the second largest killer of children on the continent. With continued support of its partners, UNICEF will continue to reach more people, and prevent more malaria-related deaths and illnesses.

"While the problem of malaria is huge, we know that it is not insurmountable" said Belinda Stronach. "The support we have received from Canadians for this grassroots initiative has been incredible as Canadians realize they can save lives - guaranteed with a simple purchase of a $10 bed net. Thanks to the contributions of Canadians over 100,000 bed nets have been shipped to Liberia and Rwanda, a strong step toward the campaign goal of 500,000 nets."

More than 200 schools across Canada have been supporting Spread the Net through the Beat the Mosquitoes fundraising challenge. The top fundraising school in Canada is Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket, Ontario, raising more than $16,500.

Sony Corporation is also supporting UNICEF's efforts to prevent malaria through donations, as well as supplying cameras, storage cards and printers to the children in the Eye See III project.

"For the second year in a row Sony is proud to be part of a project that helps to inform people worldwide of issues that affect children. Putting cameras into the hands of children allows them to tell their stories in a way that everyone can understand," said Hidemi Tomita, General Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility Department, Sony Corporation.

For more information, and to view Eye See III photos online, go to www.unicef.ca

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in156 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. In industrialized countries, UNICEF works to raise national awareness on children's rights and advocates for child friendly laws, policies and programmes. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information, visit www.unicef.ca.

About Spread the Net

Spread the Net is a hip, viral, largely web-based campaign designed to educate, motivate and inspire Canadians to help eradicate malaria by fundraising to support the purchase and distribution of bed nets. Spread the Net was founded in November 2006, by Belinda Stronach and comedian Rick Mercer and is powered by an innovative partnership with UNICEF Canada. For more information on Spread the Net please visit www.spreadthenet.org.

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