Olympic Gold Medalist Haile Gebreselassie joined USAID Ethiopian Mission Director Glenn Anders and Save the Children's Country Director Margaret Schuler on Sept. 10, 2007 for a screening of the Ethiopian children's television show Tsehai Loves Learning, which is supported by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Gebreselassie guest starred in the episode "Eat Right and Exercise."
The show features messages focused on children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The first episode of a four-part series, "Tsenat," introduces a new puppet whose mother has died of HIV/AIDS. Messages in the show - targeted at children from 3 to 6 years old - focus on understanding emotions, supporting friends when they are sad, and using imagination as a way to express emotions. The first of the Tsehai series was broadcast on Sept. 16, 2007 and the series will run through November.
According to Gebreselassie, "I want children to know that they can be who and what they want to be." Gebreselassie continued, "When I was approached about participating in today's event as well as the television show I had my doubts. But it was my own children - who knew Tsehai Loves Learning - who encouraged me to renew my career in acting!"
Gebreselassie invited the crowd in the packed cinema to join him to help fight HIV/AIDS and to help provide care and support for the children of Ethiopia, adding, "Ethiopia should be known for its famous runners, its wonderful history, fabulous people, and delicious food - not the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS."
Calling Gebreselassie "the most famous man in Ethiopia," Glenn Anders, USAID Mission Director, thanked the athlete and child advocate for sharing his talents and message with the children about the importance of exercise and eating healthy and nutritious food. Anders encouraged partners and parents in the room to take time to watch the special episodes with the children in their life.
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