UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham meets young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in visit to Philippines

 

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham meets young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in visit to Philippines

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UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and football legend David Beckham spent Valentine’s Day visiting children in areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

By Thomas Nybo

TACLOBAN, Philippines/ HONG KONG, 14 February 2014 – UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham spent his Valentine’s Day visiting young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan.
[ALL D.BECKHAM IMAGES ARE RESTRICTED. ALL UNICEF USE MUST BE CLEARED BY chloee@unicef.org.uk OR louiseo@unicef.org.uk] On 14 February 2014 in the Philippines, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham visits children affected by Typhoon Haiyan, in Tanauan – one of the areas hardest hit by the disaster. “As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, seeing how children are being given a sense of normality amidst the rubble of their communities has been amazing,” he said. “I want to show people around the world how their generous donations have had an enormous impact on children and their families and how thankful people here are for their kindness.” Mr. Beckham’s T-shirt bears the UNICEF logo.

© UNICEF/2014/ Pettersson
On 14 February, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham visits Santo Niño School in Tanawan neighbourhood, where he took part in classes helping to distribute exercise books to children in a tented classroom and played a game of football amongst the ruins of the original school.
For two days, Mr Beckham toured Tacloban and the surrounding areas, which were among the hardest hit when the powerful storm ripped through the central Philippines 98 days ago.
“As a father, it was deeply moving to meet children as young as 2 who were left with nothing but the clothes they were wearing when sea and storm water swept through their villages during the typhoon,” said Mr Beckham, who helped launch a UNICEF emergency appeal for funding just days after the storm.
While in the Tacloban area the past two days, he visited a number of UNICEF-supported sites, including the Santo Niño Elementary School, which sits on the coast and was leveled by Haiyan. The school’s principal, Marlon Tangpuz, said four of the school’s students died in the storm, and about nine out of ten children lost their homes. On the school grounds, UNICEF has installed three large tents, which are being used for classrooms and child-friendly play areas.
“Children who were caught up in Haiyan are still traumatized by their experience and need ongoing assistance,” said Mr Beckham. “UNICEF delivered life-saving supplies when the typhoon hit, and they will now stay as long as they are needed and won’t let children down.”
Mr Beckham visited dozens of children in their temporary classrooms at Santo Niño. In Edgie Mesias’ Grade 4 class, Mr Beckham sat in the front of the sand-floored room and encouraged the 9-year-old boy to read aloud to the class – an act Edgie carried out with enthusiasm.
[ALL D.BECKHAM IMAGES ARE RESTRICTED. ALL UNICEF USE MUST BE CLEARED BY chloee@unicef.org.uk OR louiseo@unicef.org.uk] On 14 February 2014 in the Philippines, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham and children play with puppets at a UNICEF-supported tented school in Tanauan – one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. “As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, seeing how children are being given a sense of normality amidst the rubble of their communities has been amazing,” he said. “I want to show people around the world how their generous donations have had an enormous impact on children and their families and how thankful people here are for their kindness.” Mr. Beckham’s T-shirt bears the UNICEF logo.

© UNICEF/2014/ Pettersson

Mr Beckham plays with children affected by Typhoon Haiyan at a UNICEF-supported tented school.

“Perfect,” Mr Beckham said.
In a new UNICEF tent, assembled a week ago on the site of a destroyed classroom, Mr Beckham handed out bags of school supplies to the young students. After helping them paint a colorful mural encouraging hand-washing, he led them to a nearby field for a rousing game of football.
UNICEF and its partners, through the distribution of school tents and learning supplies, have helped return some 420,000 children to the classroom. Recreation kits, and the creation of child-friendly spaces in weather-proof tents, are helping provide crucial psychosocial support, which is needed for children in difficult emergencies, like Haiyan.

At a mass grave, sitting on the grounds of a Catholic church just south of Palo, Mr Beckham heard the story of a man who lost most of his family, including a total of 15 children and grandchildren. The makeshift wooden cross marking their gravesite was covered with hand-written Valentine’s Day cards and letters written to his daughter, who was a teacher.

[ALL D.BECKHAM IMAGES ARE RESTRICTED. ALL UNICEF USE MUST BE CLEARED BY chloee@unicef.org.uk OR louiseo@unicef.org.uk] On 14 February 2014 in the Philippines, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham visits a cemetery in Tanauan – one of the areas hardest hit by Typhoon Haiyan. “As a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, seeing how children are being given a sense of normality amidst the rubble of their communities has been amazing,” he said. “I want to show people around the world how their generous donations have had an enormous impact on children and their families and how thankful people here are for their kindness.” Mr. Beckham’s T-shirt bears the UNICEF logo.

© UNICEF/2014/ Pettersson

Mr Beckham stops to pay his respects at a cemetery during an emotional journey to the Philippines to see the devastating effects of the typhoon. Thousands died in the disaster, and more than 1.7 million children were left homeless.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Ma’am Arleen,” read the words written by a young child on a heart cut out of yellow paper. “We love you. We miss you.”
Before flying out of Tacloban, Mr Beckham made one last stop. He visited the neighbourhood of Anibong, which sits at water’s edge. Few structures survived the typhoon and the storm surge, and the first thing a visitor notices upon arrival is the three massive ships that were washed ashore and remain on land. In the shadow of one of the ships, Mr Beckham joined a water and sanitation team and helped distribute water kits earmarked for each of the 440 households living nearby. Because of the high presence of bacteria in many of the available water sources, says UNICEF WASH Specialist Tai Ring Teh, the chlorine tablets and 20-litre containers in the kits will help protect vulnerable children from such illnesses as diarrhoea and typhoid.
Other stops on Mr Beckham’s visit included a health centre, where UNICEF has supplied a special refrigerator that keeps polio vaccine properly chilled, even during frequent power outages. Mr Beckham had the privilege of administering polio drops to Mary Kimberly Batis, a girl born one month after the typhoon.
“Here in the Philippines, I have seen how public donations can have an incredible effect on children’s lives in an emergency,” said Mr Beckham.

Read the Philippines Typhoon Response Three Month Progress Report