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18 August 2011


Making a Difference ~ Alyssa Milano

by Tracie Koziura

Alyssa Milano by Tracie KoziuraRecognised around the world for her role as Pheobe Halliwell in the TV Series "Charmed", Alyssa Milano has been an Ambassador for UNICEF since 2003 and 2004 she she was an official spokesperson for UNICEF's Trick or Treat campaign. She traveled to India, Kosovo, as well as Angola, to work with UNICEF field officers there. Alyssa hosted a photography exhibition and auction in Los Angeles which raised close to $50,000 for Nkosi's Haven, an organization that runs care centers in South Africa for AIDS-afflicted mothers and children.

Alyssa was appointed Founding Ambassador for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, to which she donated $250,000. The Global Network is an alliance formed to advocate and mobilize resources in the fight to control neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Alyssa also works to raise awareness of NTDs by educating the mainstream media and general public of the plight faced by the one billion people who are afflicted by NTDs, and the importance in controlling and preventing this global health crisis.

Alyssa says, "Words cannot fully express the devastation and horror caused by NTDs [Neglected Tropical Diseases]. Until now, these diseases have been hidden in the shadows, but working with the Global Network, I am focused on bringing this tragedy to the public eye."

In the late 1980s, Alyssa appeared on Phil Donahue's talk show where she kissed Ryan White, a schoolboy ostracised for having AIDS, to show that she would not catch it from him.

In support of PETA, she appeared in an advertisement for them, advocating vegetarianism, in a dress made entirely of vegetables!

Alyssa has received an humanitarian award from Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nation and The John Wayne Cancer Institute’s 2004 Spirit of Hollywood Award, for her commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others.

In honor of her 37th birthday (December 19, 2009), Alyssa ran an online fundraising campaign to raise money to support Charity: Water's clean water project in Ethiopia. She asked all her Twitter followers to make a donation and spread the word throughout Twitter and Facebook. Her original goal was to raise $25,000 and the final total raised was $92,568, bringing clean water to 4,628 people, 928 families in 19 communities.

As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Alyssa initiated another online campaign through Twitter after the Haiti earthquake to challenge major corporations and organizations to match her donation of $50,000. The Twitter challenge garnered enough visibility to receive dollar-for-dollar matches from three organizations and double matches from two others. This resulted in $400,000 dollars for UNICEF to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Social media gives us a platform to use our voice for positive change. Last year for my 37th birthday, I mobilized a campaign to raise money to support Charity: Water's clean water project in Ethiopia. I asked all of my Twitter followers to make a donation and spread the word through Twitter and Facebook. We raised $92,568, bringing clean water to 4,628 people, 928 families in 19 communities. It was the best birthday present I could have ever asked for.

As a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, I again went to Twitter after the Haiti earthquake to challenge major corporations and organizations to match my donation of $50,000. The Twitter challenge garnered enough visibility to receive dollar-for-dollar matches from three organizations and double matches from two others. This resulted in $400,000 dollars for UNICEF to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

I'm also an Ambassador for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an advocacy and resource mobilization initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Most people don't know that 1.4 billion people have one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These diseases blind, disfigure, and stigmatize its victims, but there is a solution. Just 50 cents can treat an individual for many of the most common NTDs for an entire year. All it takes it pocket change. What was the last thing you bought for 50 cents?

There are many opportunities to spread awareness of global health issues through social media tools like Twitter. I'm optimistic that with the right campaign we can mobilize people to learn about how we can improve people's lives. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report on NTDs, and while the report highlights successes in combating many of this diseases worldwide, it is evident that there is much more that needs to be done.

I'm optimistic about successes we've had in global health and development. But how can we spread the word? The ONE Campaign's Living Proof project highlights the incredible stories of individuals whose lives have been saved because of interventions that work.

We can use the success highlighted in Living Proof and spread them through social media to educate and inform people that while we still have a ways to go to rid the world of disease and poverty, we are moving in the right direction.

Peace,
Light,
And Love,
Alyssa

I first came to know of Alyssa Milano through her portrayal of Phoebe Halliwell in Charmed and my admiration and respect for this talented, beautiful and caring lady has continued to grow over the years. She is another of my favourite celebrities who is working hard to make a difference in our world through doing good and giving back. Her first baby is due in September this year (2011) and I wish her all the love and happiness in the world - if anyone deserves it, Alyssa certainly does!

"Alyssa"
Medium: Soft pastels on velour
Size: 10" x 10"
© 2011, Tracie Koziura

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