In 2007, Clay Aiken was a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Clay visited Afghanistan in April of that year. Word reached the American news media that Clay arrived in Afghanistan on April 3rd. Because of safety concerns, Clay’s visit was kept secret until he and his traveling companions were in a safe environment
Traveling with UNICEF country representative, Catherine Mbengue and his high school teacher Mary Props, Clay visited schools in Kabul and Bamiyan.
As a former teacher, I recognize that spark of hope and excitement all children possess when given the opportunity to learn. Rebuilding schools, training teachers, providing essential supplies and teaching materials are just some of the advances UNICEF and its partners have made to keep that hope flourishing.
Clay was especially excited about his visit to Bamiyan. He thought it was one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen. He was also excited about visiting a school there where boys and girls were being educated together.
Clay also visited some medical clinics in the area and was even able to administer polio vaccine to a newborn baby.
Clay reported that he felt that the greatest natural resource in Afghanistan is its people. He reported that he hoped to inform the people of the United States of the deep desire on the part of the children to learn.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about Afghanistan. And I couldn’t have been farther off target about the Afghan people. With the exception of maybe my grandparent’s house, I have never felt more welcomed. The afghan people are some of the most gracious and inviting people on Earth.
Clay and Mary Props spent almost two weeks on this fact-finding trip. When they returned, Clay reported that in Afghanistan, UNICEF had distributed teaching and learning materials to 2.71 million children and 61,780 teachers, supported Mobile School Protection Teams in 34 provinces, and trained 614 teacher trainers as well as 8,110 newly recruited female teachers.
After returning home to the United States, Clay started an appeal called “$100,000 in 10 Days.” On the 10th day, the following announcement was released by UNICEF. “Congratulations! We raised $181,783.03 for the kids of Afghanistan during this ten day campaign. That’s $80,000 more than the original goal we set for this campaign.”
Congratulations to UNICEF, Clay and many of his fans who worked together to help the children in Afghanistan. It was a good team effort.
When Clay returned home, UNICEF released a wonderful video of Clay’s trip.
Take a look.
From the UNICEF Website:
Clay Aiken was appointed a UNICEF Ambassador in 2004 and traveled with UNICEF to Afghanistan, Indonesia, Uganda, Mexico, Kenya, and Somalia, a country where conflict and hunger have created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. As a dedicated UNICEF Ambassador, Clay continually encouraged friends, family, and fans to donate to the U.S. Fund and support UNICEF through speeches, social networks, and blogs…
A former teacher, Clay has participated in several initiatives surrounding UNICEF’s education programs, and in turn he has uniquely targeted children in the U.S. to educate them about UNICEF’s lifesaving work. In July 2010, Clay was theKey Note Speaker at the 67th annual Kiwanis Key Club International Convention, where he thanked students for supporting UNICEF throughout the years. Additionally, Clay was the 2005 National Spokesperson for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and, in the weeks following the campaign, he toured several U.S. schools to thank students for their fundraising initiatives
“Everyone deserves the best start in life, which is what UNICEF is working to provide the world’s most vulnerable children,” Clay said. “Education is essential to a child’s development. I hope that as an Ambassador I can encourage people to join UNICEF’s mission, to make education a reality for children throughout the world.”