Monday, November 29, 1999

Dhoni, Afridi bat for UNICEF project

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Joseph Hoover Dambulla (Sri Lanka), Jun 17 (PTI) Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his Sri Lankan, Pakistani and Bangladesh counterparts today batted for the United Nations Children''s Fund''s healthy hat-trick scheme focussing on providing sanitation, nutrition and access to school for the girl child in South Asia. Gathered here for the ongoing Asia Cup cricket tournament, Dhoni, Kumar Sangakkara, Shahid Afridi and Shakib Al Hasan expressed their views on the grim situation and wanted everyone to rally around the project. In his remarks, Dhoni thanked his parents for administering polio drops to him when he was a child. "My parents took good care of me, administered polio drops and I am here. Children are the future and we need to ensure that they and their mothers remain healthy," he said. "More than being just cricketers, we are husbands, sons and brothers and we have an obligation towards our community. It is important that governments ensure that there is proper access to toilets, wider administration of polio drops and that the girl child goes to school," Sangakkara said. Talking about the situation in Pakistan, Afridi said, "In Pakistan, we need to ensure that girls to go to school and polio too is a big problem." Shakib lamented the slow progress in Bangladesh. "We have come a long way from the 1970s when children used to die because of water contamination but more needs to be done," said Shakib said. According to UNICEF, 45 per cent of the population in South Asia lack access to sanitation and 41 per cent of children suffer from malnutrition leading to three million infant deaths.

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