Priyanka Chopra on her Zimbabwe trip: I will never forget the children’s stories
Priyanka Chopra recounts her trip to Zimbabwe, where she met and interacted with children who were survivors of sexual violencebollywood Updated: May 09, 2017 07:13 IST
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra was in Zimbabwe last week, to meet children who are victims of sexual violence. Chopra’s first stop was Chitungwiza, south of Harare, Zimbabwe, where she met a 13-year-old girl who spoke about the sexual abuse she went through. Before Priyanka, Angelia Jolie who is the Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR took up the cause to fight for the rights of refugees and displaced people.
Talking about it, Priyanka says, “When I met these survivors - young brave women and children - and listened to their experiences, it just broke my heart. I will never forget their stories. Sadly, her story was just one of many stories I heard from the brave young girls. No woman, and most definitely no child, should ever have to experience sexual violence,” says Priyanka.
My start to a beautiful morning before ending an amazingly insightful trip. This is an Isibindi ("courage" in Zulu) Safe Park. The parks and program are all about prevention and early intervention to protect children from the HIV/AIDS crisis and many other vulnerabilities that can lead to violence in South Africa..The volunteer child and youth care workers (CYCW) help create a safe environment for children to play and be counseled in a controlled and protected environment. The National association of child and youth care workers (NACCW) is responsible for training almost 10,000 CYCWs and deliver services to almost 1.4 million children in SA..These workers connect with the children on a personal level, in their homes and in the park, and involve themselves in their daily life events like homework, household chores, and family issues. They use ordinary human interaction to feed these children teach them life skills and take care of the emotional needs of children -especially in child headed and parent less families. I've never seen so much commitment on such a personal level. I salute them 🙏🏻
On the second day of her visit, Priyanka visited Childline Zimbabwe, the country’s 24-hour service for children who have been abused, violated or exploited. She then visited the Childline call-in centre to meet the helpline counsellors and listen to some of the calls being fielded in real-time. “I was astonished by the number of calls that came in during the brief time that I was there. The counsellors and volunteers told me that many calls come from children in hysterics because they have been raped or abused. They were so scared. Without Childline, they would have nowhere to turn. This is a model that many countries with high rates of violence against children can adopt. It is a safe place for children to turn to and know that their call will be answered by a compassionate person who will take their complaints seriously and respond.”
Talking about the initiative, she said, “As a society, it is on us to provide and take care of our children as citizens of the world, to educate children at a young age and make them aware that it’s not okay to be inappropriately touched, and that under-age sex can lead to unwanted teen pregnancy or HIV.”
The next day, Priyanka also hosted UNICEF South Africa’s first Gala event in Johannesburg to raise funds for UNICEF’s work for children in South Africa.