Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Japanese pop star Ai Kawashima visits UNICEF/AEON supported village

Popular Japanese singer-songwriter visited Longlao village and its primary school to take a look at a community water supply scheme and water and sanitation facilities, supported by Japanese company AEON through UNICEF.

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Media Note - Vientiane capital, 8th January 2014

Popular Japanese singer-songwriter Ai Kawashima was in Longlao village, Luang Prabang province this week to visit a community water supply scheme and water and toilet facilities in Longlao Primary School, supported by Japanese company AEON through UNICEF.

“It was a great opportunity to see what UNICEF is doing with AEON’s support. This is my first time in Lao PDR and it has been great to see the twinkle in the children’s eyes. It is something I will treasure and I will share what I have seen with people in Japan,” said Ms Kawashima.

Ms Kawashima, ambassador of the AEON 1% Club, is passionate about education in developing countries and has pledged to build 100 schools in developing countries.

Ms Kawashima was accompanied by Mr Motoo Tomomura, secretary general of AEON 1% club, Dr Soutsakhone Chanthaphone, Director of the Center for Environmental Sanitation and Water supply, Ministry of Health, Mr Tatsutoshi Yoshinaga, CEO, Tsubasa Entertainment Co. Ltd, and UNICEF representatives from Japan and Lao PDR.

On arrival, the villagers greeted the Japanese delegates in traditional Hmong dress and gave a tour of the school and the village’s water stations and pumps built with AEON and UNICEF support. Ms Kawashima later sang with the school children.

“Children are the treasure for the future. World peace is based on education so we assist on education in Lao PDR,” said Mr Tomomura.

“The Lao people are very friendly towards Japan and we will continue with this work because education is the basis for peace.”

AEON, a Japanese retail corporate group, contributes 1% its profits via the AEON 1% Club to social projects.

“With AEON and UNICEF, the Lao Government has been able to get safe, clean water to 70 villages, reaching more than 40,000 people, and ensure all the schools have toilet facilities. This helps children lead healthy lives and allows them to focus on their education,” said Bishnu Timilsina, chief of water and sanitation at UNICEF Lao PDR.

The school is one of 148 primary schools including toilet facilities for girls and boys built by UNICEF with AEON support since 2007, designed to meet the standards required by the Schools of Quality concept adopted by the Ministry of Education.

Water stations have also been installed in villages for washing, drinking and cleaning. Proper hygienic behavior, including hand washing before eating and after using toilet, is also promoted in the schools to teach pupils the importance of personal hygiene to avoid illnesses.

Text & photos by Simon Nazer.

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