Basketball star, fashion designer named new UNICEF goodwill ambassadors
Three-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion Manu Ginobili of Argentina and South African fashion designer Gavin Rajah have been appointed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as goodwill ambassadors to help protect and promote child rights.
In addition to their achievements on the basketball court and in the fashion world, both men have also been recognized for their efforts on behalf of children and their families in their respective countries.
“Manu will contribute with his energy and unique talent to UNICEF’s work in support of children’s rights,” UNICEF Representative to Argentina Gladys Acosta Vargas said. “As Ambassador, Manu will help promote social change and bring attention to the country’s priority issues, especially those affecting adolescents.”
A member of the 2007 NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, Mr. Ginobili first teamed up with UNICEF in 2005 during a visit by NBA players to a hospital treating children living with HIV/AIDS.
The Olympic medallist and children’s advocate said he was honoured to be appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. “It will give me the opportunity to help increase public awareness on issues related to the well-being and development of children.”
It was Gavin Rajah’s “transformative contributions to the lives of South African children and their families” that led UNICEF to select South Africa’s top couturier to champion the rights of young people.
“Through his generous philanthropy and advocacy and his impressive creative achievements as a fashion designer and entrepreneur, Gavin Rajah promotes the rights of women and children to protection from violence, abuse and exploitation, and actively supports the development of critical life skills for young people,” UNICEF South Africa Country Representative Macharia Kamau stated.
A founder of Cape Town Fashion Week and the only South African designer invited by France’s prestigious Federation Française de la Couture to showcase his collections at fashion’s leading event, Paris Fashion Week, Mr. Rajah said he had always been a great admirer of UNICEF’s work to protect the world’s children.
“I am proud to have been given the opportunity to help UNICEF protect, care for and stamp out the most abhorrent crime of violence against children, particularly those in my own country. We must all work harder to create safer conditions for children to grow up in,” he said.
Mr. Rajah has announced plans to work with UNICEF and other partners to establish a sustainable development community-based project that supports families and young people who wish to learn garment manufacturing skills, a backbone industry in the Western Cape, where he operates his design studio and where his world famous garments are made.
With their new appointments, Manu Ginobili and Gavin Rajah join global celebrities such as tennis great Roger Federer and singers Ricky Martin and Shakira, who use their celebrity power to advocate for improvements in the well-being of all children.