|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
PRESS CONFERENCE ON ‘WORLD PEACE TOUR 4 CHILDREN’
An international galaxy of stars will take to the stage in Namibia next year for the first of a series of concerts aimed at raising both funds and awareness to educate and empower children around the world, organizers said today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The “World Peace Tour 4 Children” is the brainchild of Wolfgang Hildebrandt, a well-known German vocalist and activist, and Lavika Bhagat Singh, Chief Operating Officer of Charity Network Inc., a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., which campaigns against trafficking in children.
“Children are the future, and when children have no future, nobody has a future,” said Mr. Hildebrandt, at a press conference sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.
“We will start (the Tour) with the first concert on April 22, the official Earth Day, in Namibia,” he said. “We will go after this to South Africa. We will go to India, to South Korea, to Tokyo -- everywhere… We really want to be a light in the darkness.”
Joining the Tour would be Kool and the Gang, Peabo Bryson (who sang with Celine Dion on the soundtrack of Beauty and the Beast), Andrea Bocelli, Carlos Santana, Quincy Jones and Whitney Houston, said Mr. Hildebrant, adding that former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev would act as master of ceremonies. The actor Richard Gere would also participate.
Also at today’s press conference was Promod Sharma, a successful information technology entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of Charity Network, who explained that proceeds would go to both Charity Network and local organizations that reached out to disadvantaged children. “We want to have local artists, local governments, become part of the whole movement.” Funds raised in one area would be spent in that same area, “to help those kids in that area”. The Tour would be a long-term venture, he said, adding, “We want to be able to make sure we come through with this and that it stays with us for a long time.”
Namibia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Kaire Munionganda Mbuende, told correspondents it was “no coincidence” that the “World Peace Tour 4 Children” would begin in his country, as Namibia had been the first to enshrine the rights of the child in its Constitution.
He expressed concern that the situation for children has been “deteriorating”, saying: “We are not only dealing with the question of trafficking in children. We are having a situation of a lot of orphans because of HIV/AIDS. We are having a situation where children are actually heads of households because their parents have died -– you have children taking care of children… Unless you do something about the situation of children, the future would be very bleak for a lot of our countries.”
Also lending support to the “World Peace Tour 4 Children” was the United Nations former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Anwarul K. Chowdhury. He noted how the Tour coincided with the United Nations-declared International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, which runs through 2010.
“I think this Peace Tour will give the final years of the decade a big boost,” Mr. Chowdhury said. Turning to the organizers, he added: “The heart of the World Peace Tour is education… You will be bringing educational materials, opportunities for education for the children -- and I believe that that’s a wonderful thing.”
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