|Miss Leila Lulian da Costa Viera Lopes, Miss Universe 2011, has presented a cheque for GHC2,400 to the SOS Village at Tema on behalf of Ecobank.
The donation formed part of her activities to raise funds to support orphans, reduce poverty and create awareness about HIV and AIDS in Africa and the world.
Miss Lopes said Africa was recently commended for making impressive strides towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2012. She said there was the need for more to be done to lift millions of Africans out of poverty and educate them about the dangers of HIV and AIDS.
She said touring Africa was an opportunity to celebrate Africa’s achievements which was often understated.
“Africa has a bright future filled with hope and promise. I believe my visit will inspire the lives of many young people to dream big and work to achieve their goals”.
Miss Lopes said it was a great opportunity to visit SOS Villages and orphanages that were active in providing care and love for children in many countries in Africa and demonstrated her commitment to supporting orphans.
Ms Roberta Annan, Chief Executive Officer of Roberta Annan Consulting Group, organizers of the tour, said the loss of a parent was terrible and that children who had been orphaned by AIDS were frequently shunned by society, denied affection and care and left with few resources to fall back on.
She said for economic and other reasons, many of these children drop out of school and sometimes suffered from malnutrition, ill health and are at risk of exploitation and abuse, increasing the chance that they too might contract AIDS.
Ms Annan said families and communities had shown remarkable resilience and compassion in dealing with children affected by HIV and AIDS, but in many communities the scale of the crisis was overwhelming the ability to cope.
She said often, poor women and the elderly shouldered the burden and some communities were reeling from the loss of their most productive members.
“It is for this reason that Miss Universe 2011 has decided to undertake this tour to add her voice to draw the attention to plight of these vulnerable children affected and infected by HIV and AIDS.”
Mr Titi Offie, Member of SOS Board and Principal of SOS International, thanked Ecobank for the donation and appealed to individuals and institutions to the Village either in cash or in kind.