Orlando Bloom visits COOPI’s beneficiaries


 

In late February, the English actor Orlando Bloom, Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF, carried out a mission in the Diffa region, in the South-East of Niger, to raise awareness regarding the humanitarian crisis at the base of Lake Chad, where violence spread by Boko Haram has caused massive displacements of the population.
During his visit, Bloom visited the projects implemented by COOPI, funded by UNICEF active in the Diffa region. Our centers provide hospitality, protection, nutrition and education to hundreds of thousands of children who were forced to leave their homes, who do not have the possibility to attend school and who are exposed to the risk of malnutrition.
«As a father, it is difficult for me to immagine how many of these children have been involved in this conflict. During this mission I’ve heard terrible stories told by children that have escaped by foot, leaving everything behind, including the security of their homes and of their schools», explains Bloom.

Meeting children who escaped Boko Haram

In Niger, the British actor, who made his first field trip in 2007 to see UNICEF’s work, met children like fourteen year-old Amada Goni who lives with his family in a camp for displaced people in Garin Wazam. Many of his friends have joined Boko Haram, some voluntarily, while others have been forced. Amada entrusted Bloom his nightmares, which have been haunting him since his village was attacked by terrorists eight months ago. Nowadays, Amada goes to COOPI’s unit of psychological support everyday, where he receives support and assistance in dealing with his trauma – and where he has met new friends. «When I go there to play, I feel good, I feel relieved, in short, I feel much better» he explains. «It helps me to deal with my nightmares.»

«It is extremely difficult to understand this situation when you are not there. I could see the depth of the pain and suffering that these children are facing. No child should ever experience something like that, “says Bloom again. “Still, it’s been amazing to see the smile on the face of Amada, while playing basketball with his friends. This is the result of UNICEF’s work»

 

 

During his mission in Niger, Bloom also visited Bosso, on the border with Nigeria, where he met thirteen year-old Eta, who escaped together with her family after her home was burnt down by Boko Haram. Now Eta goes to a temporary school, opened by COOPI and UNICEF, and dreams of becoming a doctor, working for the well-being of her community.

«This mission has touched me deeply» highlights Bloom. «Every child I have met has been affected by this conflict and is in desperate need of basic necessities such as water, education, psychological support, in order to overcome the atrocities they have suffered and witnessed. These children need to get their childhood back!»

Our projects in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger have intensified their actions in assisting thousands of families in the region, ensuring access to drinking water, instruction and education, psychological support, vaccines and cures for malnutrition.

However, there is still a lot to do: the lack of funding and the difficult access due to security reasons hinder the distribution of humanitarian aid to the thousands of children in state of need. In order to give these children a future they deserve, Orlando Bloom invites us not to forget the crisis at the basin of Lake Chad, one of the biggest of our era: «We must take action! Today.»

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