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UNICEF: Trip to Liberia

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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom and Mayor Cyvette Gibson visit the Paynesville Community School to recruit U-Reporter's!

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- C.Cyvette M. Gibson

There are more pics in the Gallerie.

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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom has been meeting with youth, religious leaders and community members during his visit to Liberia. On the first day of his visit, he helped raise awareness on Ebola and women's rights, and took part in a recruitment drive encouraging youth to join u-report.

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- UNICEF Liberia

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Amazing pictures. Well done, Orlando, in your role as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Thanks for these, Rene. What a treat! Heading to the Gallerie right now.

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Love our man. :heart: :heart:

Thanks, Rene.

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These are wonderful pictures! I can see how much he cares and wanting to help out as much as he can, he shows us once again just how big his heart is and its no wonder I love Orlando so much. :heart:

Thank you so much Rene for posting these great pictures. :hug:

Kim

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He's just amazing. How he can go from something as silly as Red Nose Day, then to Liberia on a mission for UNICEF without missing a beat is astounding! He has to be the most caring person, and that's why we love him.

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More pics from UNICEF's Facebook page:

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Orlando ‘bumps elbows’ with Imam Abdullah Mansrai - a newly adopted way of greeting people during the Ebola outbreak. Bloom participated in discussions with religious leaders who are working with UNICEF to raise awareness on Ebola prevention within their communities and religious institutions.

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Orlando takes part in a game of kickball with youth from the ‘Adolescents Leading Intensive Fight against Ebola’ group during his visit to Monrovia, Liberia.

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Orlando is welcomed to Jene Wonde township in Liberia with a traditional welcoming ceremony, involving multiple drummers, singers and dancers.

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Orlando reads to students at Jene Wonde Central School in Liberia, which reopened for academic activities on 2 March 2015. The school, which currently has 355 enrolled students, remained closed since the June 2014 break, and did not reopen in September owing to the Ebola outbreak. Teachers at the school have received training on the protocols for safe school reopening in the context of Ebola. Handwashing stations have been set up, the temperature of anyone entering the school premises is checked, and an isolation area has been set up in case anyone at the school displays symptoms of Ebola, all part of the strict protocols in place to minimize the risk of the spread of Ebola in schools. UNICEF has provided basic hygiene items for the establishment of the protocols.

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Orlando talks to a student at Jene Wonde Central School in Grand Cape Mount County in Liberia. He was visiting the school to see the protocols that have been established to minimize the risk of the spread of Ebola.

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Orlando dons Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) at the Community Care Center in Jene Wonde township in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia. The PPEs are worn by healthcare workers taking care of Ebola patients, and also by other personnel working with Ebola contaminated or potentially contaminated material. Strict protocols are observed when donning or taking off PPEs to ensure that the healthcare and other workers in Ebola treatment centers are safe from contracting the virus.

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Orlando talks to 30 year old Ansu Anderson Turay who lost his wife, two step daughters and infant son to Ebola in Jene Wonde township in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia. His wife, her father, mother, brother and sister-in-law all died of Ebola. Only Ansu and his six year old son survived. Ansu is a well known soccer player, representing the Grand Cape Mount County team in the Liberia County League.

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Orlando joins General Community Health Volunteers (GCHVs) in Mambu in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia as they conduct a door to door campaign that helps raise awareness on the importance of immunization.

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Orlando watches as a resident of Majima township in Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia, shows him how to make a “Tippy-Top,” a locally made bamboo-based handwashing station.

- UNICEF/Jallanzo

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Fantastic pictures. Thanks, Rene. The protocols for minimizing the spread of Ebola and campaigns that raise awareness of the importance of immunization are critical. It's wonderful seeing Orlando taking an active part as a UNICEF representative. He is such a caring and concerned person. :heart:

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The protocols for minimizing the spread of Ebola and campaigns that raise awareness of the importance of immunization are critical. It's wonderful seeing Orlando taking an active part as a UNICEF representative. He is such a caring and concerned person. :heart:

Barbara, I agree with every thing you said and I couldn't have said better if I tried.

These are wonderful pictures and I am so proud of Orlando. I love that picture of him listening to the little girl, how he is giving her his undivided attention. He just shows us once again just how much he loves children and how much he cares about the world around him and wanting to make it a better place for all of us. :throb:

Thank you so much Rene for posting these wonderful pictures. :hug:

Kim

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Two more pics:

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Orlando is talking to Sophia Vaye a single mother with 5 children (4 girls and 1 boy) who benefited from the cash transfer program for about 2 years. The money helped her to purchase a piece of land on which they plan to build a house.

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Orlando is waving goodbye to one of Zinnah Folley’s eight children. Zinnah is a single mother and supported by UNICEF’s social cash transfer program. With the money Zinnah, was able to enroll all her children in school. The social cash transfer program is targeting the poorest and most vulnerable families.

- UNICEF/Jallanzo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cz734gyZ5GU

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Wow! I am all emotional right now after watching this video! Orlando was so gentle with that baby while administering the shot. What a special guy Orlando is and I love him even more after seeing that. :heart:

Thank you so much Rene for posting the latest pictures and the video. :hug:

Kim

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Thanks, Rene, for the additional pictures and the video. I am so impressed with Orlando's participation and his caring nature.

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How lovely, loving and caring he is. I don't have enough words, but my heart is overflowing with admiration for our boy/man.

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A few more:

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Orlando gives an oral polio vaccine to an infant at pipeline clinic in Liberia. Immunization rates in the country have dropped significantly due to the Ebola outbreak, putting more children at risk of contracting deadly but preventable diseases.

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Orlando talks to a mother and child at the Pipeline clinic, in Montserrado County, Liberia.

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Orlando takes part in a youth pop-up theatre programme. The children improvise dramas as they might occur in real life - more than 50 children in Mt. Barclay and Gbarnga City, Liberia have been trained to encourage their communities through theatre to learn more about preventing Ebola's spread.

- UNICEF/Jallanzo

On World Water Day UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom, who just visited Ebola affected Liberia, shared what he thinks water is.

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Press Release

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom concludes four-day visit to Liberia

Bloom is first high profile personality to visit since beginning of Ebola outbreak

NEW YORK/MONROVIA, Liberia, 23 March 2015 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom concluded a four-day visit to Liberia where he praised the efforts of Ebola-affected communities in combating the deadly virus.

“Everyone I met was determined to beat Ebola so that they can resume their normal lives,” said Bloom after meeting with religious and youth leaders in the capital Monrovia. “Communities have been at the center of the fight against Ebola and must continue to be supported because of their crucial role in getting to zero cases."

Peer educators have played an important role in the Ebola response, including adolescent girls and boys in the A-Life project in West Point, a poor and densely populated neighborhood in Monrovia. Meeting with Bloom, representatives of the group explained how their volunteers had reached more than 25,000 people to raise awareness on how their community members could avoid getting ill and stop the spread of the virus.

At a primary school in a severely affected community on the border with Sierra Leone, Bloom observed the Ebola school safety protocols that were introduced when schools reopened after a seven-month shutdown. These protocols, introduced with UNICEF support to reduce the risk of transmission, include taking children’s temperatures when they arrive to school and making them wash their hands before entering the classroom.

“Because of this outbreak, a million children in Liberia have had their school year cut in half,” said Bloom. “They’re excited to be back in the classroom but the precautions that every single one of them must follow every day are a reminder of the need to remain vigilant.”

Across the sub-region the Ebola virus has infected more than 24,000 people – including over 5,000 children – and has killed nearly 10,000.

Ebola cases have been declining in the sub-region, but the battle is far from over. While the fight continues, efforts to rebuild health, education and social protection systems are prioritized.

Bloom, well known for roles in blockbuster films such as The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean, became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in October 2009. Last year he traveled to Jordan to meet children and families impacted by the Syrian crisis.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work please visit http://www.unicef.org/.

You can watch and download B-roll videos of Orlando in Liberia here.

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Thanks for the additional pics, the video and the press release. Bless Orlando for his tireless work on behalf of the world's children.

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I love the pictures! Orlando is so good with these children and I can tell how much they trust him by the way they open up to him. :heart:

Thank you so much Rene for the pictures, the video and the press release. :hug:

Kim

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Thank you Rene for all the great pictures and videos of Orlando's trip to Liberia. I just love how great and attentive he is with the children. Just when I think I couldn't love him more. :heart: Keep up the wonderful work Orlando.

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Here's a video showing clips from the B-roll videos (see link in my last post).

"It's been incredibly inspiring to go into the communities, to witness firsthand the way the communities have really pulled together.”

For more about UNICEF's work, visit: http://www.unicef.org

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I absolutely love this video showing us what Orlando did during his visit in Liberia. He is the best there is and I can tell he is in his element when he is working with UNICEF, helping and hanging out with the children. I also can tell how much the children love being around him. :heart:

Thank you so much Rene for posting this wonderful video and the links. :hug:

Kim

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Thanks, Rene, for this latest video. I loved seeing Orlando describing his experiences and watching his interactions with everyone. He is truly a marvelous ambassador for UNICEF.

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Thanks, Rene, for this latest video. I loved seeing Orlando describing his experiences and watching his interactions with everyone. He is truly a marvelous ambassador for UNICEF.

I absolutely agree with you Barbara. :heart:

Kim

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Very important work he is doing. The Ebola epidemic seems to have been almost forgotten by the public. But it is still continuing. So every effort to draw attention back to it is vital!

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It's great that Orlando is able to continue his work with UNICEF. Always giving his time to charity work is such an endearing quality, worthy of our admiration.

Thank you so much, Rene.

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E! Online

Orlando Bloom on Joining UNICEF's Ebola Fight: "I Was Honored to Witness Their Amazing Work"

Did you know Orlando Bloom has been working with UNICEF for over seven years? The star was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador in 2009. So not only is he gorgeous and talented, but he's also a humanitarian.

The first time he traveled with UNICEF was to Nepal back in 2007 where he visited the remote western districts of Kaski and Chitwan, two of the poorest areas of Nepal. Of the experience, Orlando tells E! News, "I was able to see how UNICEF supported education programs, water and sanitation programs and how they're making a real difference in their lives."

"I admire the work UNICEF does, as it focuses not just on addressing the immediate needs of children and their families but also focuses on finding longer-term, sustainable solutions", he said of his partnership with the organization.

Orlando visited Liberia with UNICEF a few weeks ago to help in the fight against Ebola, and we wanted to know everything about his trip. Thankfully, he was happy to oblige.


Had you been before? Who did you go with? Were you scared?
This was my first trip to Liberia. UNICEF invited me to observe the life-saving efforts led by local communities to tackle the Ebola virus. It is truly a remarkable example of how mobilizing young people and community leaders can control the spread of an epidemic.

Liberia had gone over two weeks with no new confirmed cases, so I wasn't scared. Once I was there I saw all the precautions in place. For example, we weren't allowed to enter any building—schools, health centers, government buildings, even my hotel—without washing our hands in chlorinated water and getting our temperature taken. During the drives to rural areas, there are checkpoints along the roads where the same protocols are in place, hand washing and temperature taking.

There is an unofficial—but actually everyone does it—no touch policy. No hugs, no handshakes—instead, everyone greets each other with an elbow bump.


How have the communities been impacted by the epidemic?
Everyone I met experienced loss of a friend or family member. For instance, I visited the community of Jene Wonde which lost 40 people to Ebola. I met a young man there, Ansu, who was a father, 30 years old. He lost his wife, two daughters and infant son due to Ebola, as well as his wife's parents, brother and sister. Ansu's only surviving child, his son, Abraham, is 6 years old, he was able to beat Ebola. Basically, he lost the majority of his immediate and extended family in the space of just over three months. I have so much respect for Ansu, whose whole life was turned upside-down and yet he has stepped up to take care of his son and to ensure he goes to school. I can't even imagine being in his shoes. He needs time, he needs support from his community, but it is remarkable to see his resilience and strength of character. Hard to forget.


What was particularly memorable for you?
Trying on the Personal Protective Equipment—or PPE as it is more commonly called—which is what the health care workers have to wear to deal with Ebola patients. There is a whole regiment of putting it on and taking it off so that you aren't infected with the virus during the process. First you put on the boots, and then you put on your first pair of gloves, then the zip-up white jumpsuit. The next thing to put on is a light hood to keep your hair in place. Then you put on another hood, which is attached to the jumpsuit. Next are the mouth and nose masks, then goggles, and then another hood to make sure there are no openings between the goggles and the hood. You then put on a second pair of gloves and at last an apron. It's impossible to see who is in the suit, so they write your name on the apron. On your shoulder they write the time for when you are fully dressed because you shouldn't be in the suit too long. There is a buddy system in place to put the whole suit on to ensure everything sits in the right place and that there are no gaps where the virus can enter.

I can honestly say that once I had it on, it was definitely one of the more claustrophobic and uncomfortable experiences I've had. It is extremely hot in Liberia, and those suits are not made of a breathable fabric. I was in the PPE for three minutes max and I was really uncomfortable, sweating, actually drenched in sweat. To imagine the health care workers are in these PPEs for over an hour—and sometimes longer—caring for these incredibly sick people is just phenomenal. So many of them lost their lives, so many of them were exposed to Ebola. And they all witnessed such tragic circumstances each and every day. They are true heroes!

What were some of the local efforts? How has this fight changed the lives of the people you met?
Community leaders educated their neighbors on Ebola and how to stay safe. Communities formed taskforces. Young people got involved. Everyone came together to help spread the word about how to stay safe. In order to eradicate Ebola, behavior change is key, so Liberians were encouraged to wash their hands, stop touching and caring for sick people and instead call an ambulance, seek help if having symptoms and stop washing and burying dead bodies, a very common burial custom in Liberia, in order to stop transmission of the virus.

The people I met are resilient and determined to stop the spread of Ebola. For example, I visited West Point in Monrovia—a densely populated slum with a population of approximately 65,000 people—half of which are under the age of 18.

Just before the Ebola outbreak, a livelihoods skills development program for girls, called A LIFE (Adolescents Leading an Intensive Fight Against Ebola) was set to start. Due to Ebola the program was put on hold. Then, when West Point was quarantined because of the severity of the Ebola outbreak, UNICEF organized an orientation for 500 girls as part of the A LIFE program, specifically around Ebola prevention.

A week later UNICEF found that the girls were sharing what they had learned within the community. The girls took the matter into their own hands, and many boys joined too. They were provided with protective gear (rain boots, coats, hand sanitizers and thermometers) as well as snacks and stipends and educated the community around them about how to prevent Ebola. They set up hand washing stations everywhere, they informed people who to contact if they felt someone was sick. They are still doing this, and they invited me to join them. I was honored to witness their amazing work.

What's the next step?
Even though Liberia is almost down to zero cases, you can't consider the virus eradicated until there are no cases in Sierra Leone and Guinea, Liberia's neighboring countries, which have very porous borders, So there is more work to do! They still have some way to go to get to the same level of progress as Liberia.

But UNICEF is there for the long term. They were there before Ebola and we will stay for many years to come. Beating the epidemic is one thing, more funding, and continued support are required to ensure that Liberia is able to rebuild a more responsive health system in order to ensure a stronger, safer future for Liberia's children.

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