By Alexander Villafania
DATU UDIN SINSUAT, MAGUINDANAO – She is a fashion icon and TV personality yet this mother of three would go to great lengths, even head to this war-torn province, to promote a worthy cause.
As a Special Advocate for Children by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Daphne Oseña-Paez, who hosts “F” and “Urban Zone”, visited Maguindanao recently.
She visited sites where the UNICEF is conducting its Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), a project aimed at stemming malnutrition among children uprooted by fighting between the government and Muslim insurgents.
Considered to be among the most dangerous places in Mindanao, Maguindanao was made infamous by the Ampatuan political clan tagged as suspects in the massacre of civilians.
But Daphne saw it as her duty to make her advocacy known to even the most impoverished members of society. Apart from her work with UNICEF, Paez said that the trip also coincides with her breastfeeding advocacy.
“One of the key reasons of malnutrition among babies is the lack of breastfeeding from their mothers,” she says. “It’s already a known fact that breastfeeding is best for babies and I believe that it’s the only thing that babies must have for their growth.”
Breastfeeding, for one, strengthens the immune system of babies owing to higher nutrient levels in breast milk.
Daphne says even busy mothers will be able to breast feed. “It’s important that mothers have the time to breast feed. It is also a good period to bond with their babies.”
At one of the UNICEF CMAM sites in Maguindanao, she saw for herself some mothers from impoverished villages taking care for malnourished children. She gave them some tips on how to care for children and explained to them how breastfeeding could solve their babies’ malnutrition issues.
Daphne, however, recognizes the the plight of women caught in the war zones of Maguindanao. Women and children in families displaced by war are extremely vulnerable to health problems.
“The situation that these women are facing inspires me to pursue this advocacy, both as a mother and a woman,” she says.
Daphne helped organize a recent art auction, getting friends and other people from the arts and design community, to donate art works in order to raise funds for UNICEF
Contrary to what most people might think, Daphne said UNICEF does not get funds from the UN and relies on voluntary contributions to carry out its projects.
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