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Source: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
30 September 2013

A message from Mark Levengood, UNICEF Sweden Goodwill Ambassador, to Palestinian children

In September, UNICEF Sweden Goodwill Ambassador Mark Levengood visited the State of Palestine, where he discovered the the lives of Palestinian children and their families.

His journey started in the West Bank. In the Old City of Hebron, he crossed military checkpoints with teenagers who have to cross up to four on their way to school every morning, learning how UNICEF helps children safely access school. In the desert of the South Hebron Hills, he visited Bedouin communities living in cave homes in the hamlet of Jinba, including a 20-day old baby boy born in a cave to a family facing eviction.

Travelling to Gaza, he learnt that only 5% of the water from the aquifer is fit for human consumption and saw how UNICEF helps communities to access safe drinking water by building desalination units and providing poor families with water filters and water tanks directly at home. Levengood also visited a neonatal unit rehabilitated by UNICEF and spoke with children receiving psychosocial counseling ten months after the end of Israeli military operation “Pillar of Defence”.

Levengood met with youth in Adolescent-Friendly Spaces across the occupied Palestinian territory. He saw how vulnerable adolescents are empowered to overcome hardship and to express themselves through film making, theater and sport, thanks to support from theSwedish Committee for UNICEF.

“I saw how children are exposed to violence in their daily lives, but was impressed at their determination to build a better future despite the difficulties they face,” Levengood said. He concluded his visit in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he registered this video message addressed to Palestinian children.

Mark Levengood, a Swedish-speaking Finn who grew up in Helsinki and also holds US citizenship, is a journalist, writer, and talk-show host. He has been UNICEF Sweden Goodwill Ambassador since 2008.

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