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The Survival Project: One at a Time

Aired July 6, 2008 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The second biggest killer of children around the world, behind malaria, is dirty drinking water. Imagine, your child sharing drinking water with pigs, with dogs. Your child, bathing in the same water he uses as a toilet.
LUCY LIU, ACTRESS: Water is more than what it seems. It's not just, you know, to drink and to wash your clothes. It's about education. It's about health. It's about security.

GUPTA: Children belong in school. But in Baghdad, this child has to sell gas to support his family as bombs go off around him. Twelve- years-old and forced to kill or be killed. One former child soldier relives his nightmare on the front lines. His new fight, to make sure this abuse doesn't happen to others. Millions of children face unimaginable hardship in a world that seems not to know it even exists. But many people do know and are spreading the word.

AL ROKER, NBC NEWS: Why wouldn't you want to do whatever you could to help what basically is going to be the future of this planet?

GUPTA: Come with CNN as we introduce you to children around the world. These children are remarkable. Their stories are still hopeful. We'll show you how you can help. "The Survival Project: One Child At A Time."

Welcome to the "The Survival Project: One Child At A Time." I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Over the next hour, I'm going to take you on a truly remarkable trip around the globe. Together, we're going to visit tiny villages in struggling countries I've seen firsthand, where children, too many of them, go with too few of their basic needs. As a doctor, a journalist, as a father, I can tell you it's heartbreaking, unacceptable, even unconscionable. But it's also fixable.

In fact, according to UNICEF, nearly 10 million children die every year of preventable causes, malaria, measles, diarrhea, pneumonia, all of it before the age of five. Hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of individuals, compassionate, heroic individuals are committed to making a concrete difference.

This hour, we spotlight the efforts of UNICEF. Their middle name is children. They're active in 115 countries around the world and their only mission is saving young people's lives.

Also joining me are other champions for children, celebrities with familiar faces such as Lucy Liu and Dayle Haddon. They along with medical experts and child advocates are here to help all of us make a difference. So let's get right to it. The second biggest killer of children around the world behind malaria again, is, dirty water. Turning on that tap seems like a birth right. But for millions of the world's poorest children, clean water simply doesn't exist. Our Dan Rivers traveled to the southeastern Asian country of Laos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The jade rivers that carve their way through the mountains of Laos are crucial for the people that live there. In villages like this, people collect their drinking water from the river. But here, the water is potentially deadly. It's shared by dogs, by pigs. Some villages even wash their motorbikes here.

Villages upstream use it as a toilet and logging trucks drive right through it. People know the water here makes them sick but they have no other option. You can see why so many people get ill in this village. This is the water they're drinking. It's incredibly cloudy because it's full of sediment and animal feces.

It's the dry season, so their wells are just about empty. Mping (ph) explains for the first three months, this is the only water available and even though his son Sam (ph) often gets sick, they must drink it. Tong (ph) has lost hope of ever having access to clean water. "I might have to wait until I die to get clean water here," she says. "We often get diarrhea and fever."

It used to be the same in neighboring village Houy Tom. This dirty stream used to be the only water source for 357 people. They drank, washed and cooked using this filthy water. It might have killed 2- year-old Mahi Pinesone (ph) in 2005. His tiny face just visible in this damaged photo, the only one his 12-year-old brother, Willie (ph), has to remember him by. Willie knows how crucial clean water can be. With the help of a UNICEF program, he now uses this faucet to collect safe drinking water and take it home each day.

Unfortunately Willie's little brother Mackey (ph), wasn't so lucky. Their mother Pokam (ph) explains how Mackey suddenly became sick, vomiting blood. They rushed him to a clinic and then to a hospital, but the doctors couldn't save him. "They told me they still don't know for sure which disease killed him. They simply say it was his illness that took their boy."

Mackey's father Humpam (ph) was away at the time of his son's death and came home to the awful news. He says he was in utter shock and didn't know what to do.

What's so frustrating is that little boys like Mackey needn't have died. For just $5,000, this village has stopped using this dirty stream that's used by the local animals and now they've got their own clean, safe, drinking water.

It's a gravity-fed system, simple and effective. Filtering and channeling water from the mountainside to this reservoir and then into the village. SIMON INGRAM, UNICEF SPOKESMAN: In this country, as in many others around the world, diarrheal disease is the second biggest killer of children. So as soon as you have clean water supply readily available to families, then the risk of those diarrheal diseases is much reduced. That means that lives are being saved and quickly.

RIVERS: In the developed world, we take it for granted that you can just turn on a faucet and you will get clean drinking water. But here, it's a novelty and it's innovation that is saving lives. In Houy Tom, since UNICEF introduced this faucet, no children have got sick.

The Pinesones (ph) just pray their two surviving children will stay healthy. With clean water, they now stand a much better chance that they won't fall victim to such a preventable disease like their little brother, Mackey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And joining me now, UNICEF ambassador Lucy Liu and Dermot Carty. He's head of Inter-Agency and Humanitarian Partnership. Thanks to both of you for joining us.

LIU: Thanks for having us.

GUPTA: You know, we talk about clean water Dermot. It's amazing that you hear about Mackey, this little boy. He still died of not being able to get clean water. 2008 and this is still happening. How are we doing in this fight?

DERMOT CARTY, CHIEF, INTER-AGENCY AND HUMANITARIAN PARTNERSHIP: I think we're making a great deal of progress. And I think the progress is positive. Clearly, there's an enormous amount of work still to be done. At the moment, there's still about 1 billion people without access to improved water supply. Now to put a billion people into context, can you imagine the whole of the Americas without access to water? How bad would that be?

GUPTA: You've been on the ground, Lucy, and you've seen some of this firsthand. What does it mean to actually get clean water for some of these children?

LIU: Well, it's life-changing because water is essentially the source for everything, for education, for agriculture, for nutrition, for health and protection as well because children get up and they are the ones who have to do the chores for the family. So they'll get up at 4:00 in the morning when there's no light and they'll walk on these dangerous roads in the dark to stand in a cube for water and they'll have to go back and forth on the road the entire day. And that is going to eliminate any education for them, which will also eliminate any kind of future for them.

GUPTA: You are probably struck, as I was, watching Dan Rivers' piece there, $5,000, Dermot, to get clean water into that village. Can you extrapolate that to the rest of the world? If we're trying to replicate this in other parts of the world, can it be done? CARTY: Oh, yes, it can be done. I think that there's available technology to do it. In fact, what we really need to have is the technologies that can be managed by communities. So it's important that we don't run out there with very sophisticated water treatment systems and so on, but a simple dug well with a bucket that's properly protected can provide adequate water for 250 people.

GUPTA: I want you guys to look at these images with me. It's pretty remarkable. The tropical cyclone slammed into Myanmar, as many of you know, leaving more than 100,000 people dead and millions more homeless.

Faces of the victims, innocent children. Dozens of UNICEF workers delivered medicine, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting for shelter and water and then days later, the unimaginable, another disaster. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake shatters Sichuan Province, China, more than 69,000 people died. Thousands of them were students in schools. The grieving parents say crumbled down like houses of cards. Chinese President Hu Jintao rolled up his sleeves, rushed to the quake zone and ordered all-out efforts to help the victims.

Also on the ground, UNICEF and other agencies such as the Red Cross Society of China. The agency mobilized to offer medical supplies, food water and emotional support. Dermot, UNICEF is in 150 different countries. What happens? Disaster hits. Who gets the call? How does it all work?

CARTY: Well, the nice thing about UNICEF is that we're very often there before an emergency hits. In the case of Myanmar, we had an office there that was well staffed before the event happened. We have a good emergency preparedness and response strategies in place. And that allowed to us put the pre-positioned supplies that we have out to the communities, which bought us the time to mobilize bigger as we needed to get additional supplies in.

GUPTA: Lucy, you've been to several places around the world. We've talked about some of these in Africa and Russia. You plan on going to Myanmar you just told me, as well.

LIU: That's right, yes.

GUPTA: What are you going to do there? What are you going to get done?

LIU: I think the most important thing for me to do is to channel the information that's sort of happening there and what the people need and come back and give that information out to the news media and to the people. Because I think when you really go to a location and have that experience, people can kind of tune in. Because a lot of people sometimes don't know where their money is going. How can they help? And I think if you are a familiar face on television, then they can sort of access that when they watch the news.

GUPTA: Are you optimistic, Lucy, when you see what's happening there, that you're going to go to Myanmar and things are going to improve thanks to lots of relief organizations? LIU: Absolutely. I think when you go to a country that's devastated, let's say for Pakistan where the earthquake was and we went there, you just see how they're mobilizing on the ground. What they really need is support.

GUPTA: You're going to stay with us for the whole hour, Lucy Liu. Dermot Carty, thanks so much.

CARTY: Thank you very much.

GUPTA: Who else is helping? Celebrities along with Lucy Liu and Mia Farrow and Ne-Yo are lending their time and talents to saving children around the world.

NE-YO, SINGER: This isn't one of those "it will solve itself situations." It is something that involves everybody. This is something that affects everybody.

GUPTA: Still to come, stars tell us why they're fighting for the cause, 2.3 million children live with HIV. Breaking the cycle means getting to mom first. Next stop, Peru. It takes less than a dollar a day to save a child's life. To learn more about UNICEF, other relief agencies and ways that you can get involved and make a difference, point your browser to CNN.com/impact. "The Survival Project: One Child at a Time.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: The number of people around the world who live with HIV continues to rise. Two out of three of those people live in sub- Saharan Africa. A half a world away in Peru, the virus that causes AIDS is far less prevalent, largely because of prevention programs that focus on children of HIV positive mothers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): In Peru, at least 1,500 children live with HIV/AIDS. As I will show you, UNICEF hopes to drive that number down, starting with new mothers, like Adelaida Delgado (ph). What you're witnessing here is very, very important. What they're doing is a rapid test trying to figure out if Adalida (ph) here is in fact HIV positive. She just had this baby a couple of hours ago. If in fact this test comes back in 30 minutes as being positive, that means this baby should not be breast-fed and should only formula fed for the next six months. That could greatly reduce the chances of actually transferring HIV from the mother to the child.

The first priority, to diagnose and treat as early as possible. What now happens here, every woman coming into any maternal child health clinic is tested for HIV, no questions asked, no exceptions.

So this is the rapid test. It comes in a packet just like this. I'm not going to open it up because these are premium over here. They're quite a commodity. You use this test to take just a little bit of blood and the result comes back in 15 to 30 months. For Adelaida (ph), it's good news. She tests negative. That wasn't the case for Magdelina (ph), a mother two of boys. Their faces are blurred. Make no mistake, HIV/AIDS is still terribly stigmatized.

Even today, she lives on the streets, cast out by society. Her story, diagnosed with HIV almost two years ago while pregnant and then even worse than that, her son, Adu (ph) also tested positive. A mom had given her son a potential death sentence. Unimaginable. Committed to never letting that happen again, Magdelina (ph) took action with UNICEF's help. Simple things, a C-section. That's mandatory. So many HIV infections are spread in the birth canal. No breast-feeding. Breast milk can also be a reservoir for the virus and even giving prophylactic anti-retroviral medications to her newborn son.

Together, it all works. Nine-month-old Jordi (ph) remains HIV negative and completely healthy. And it's not just Jordi. Thousands of children benefit. The risk of maternal to child transmission is 2 percent. Compare that to a 40 percent chance if nothing is done.

As for Adu (ph), today he's almost 3-years-old and doing well. The key for him, taking this therapy medication two times a day to keep the virus in check. Do you see the medications working?

ROSA VALENCIA, UNICEF COMMUNITY HEALTH VOLUNTEER: Yes, it's working.

GUPTA: Twice a day, Rosa travels all over this neighborhood by foot, visiting her patients. One thing that's really important, obviously if you have all these medications they do no good unless you can actually get people to take them. That's where UNICEF comes in, actually going door to door, making sure people are taking their medication. Let's take a look.

Rosa offers some words of encouragement and makes sure these young girls are taking the medicine they need to live. It doesn't mean that some of the stories still aren't very heartbreaking. For example, this little 7-month-old boy was abandoned here after his mother tested positive for HIV. We don't even know if the boy has HIV or not, but no state orphanage will take him for the next 18 months. So for the time being he's sort of stuck. The nurses call him Angelito (ph) for little angel.

FLORENCE BAUER, UNICEF PERU: The impact of UNICEF is every child is diagnosed and if one is HIV positive, the right steps can be taken.

GUPTA: The right steps in Peru, stopping an epidemic before it ever begins.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: I should tell you, little Angelito (ph) who you just met at the end of that piece there is still in that hospital. No one has come to claim this boy. This is an example of what's still happening with HIV/AIDS.

Now joining Lucy and myself is UNICEF's Vivian Lopez, who's the regional adviser for HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean. Thanks for joining us.

Lucy, let me start with you, actually because you've done a lot of education programs around this. And I was so struck when I was down there in Peru about the stigma that still surrounds HIV/AIDS. There's medicines that work, there's a lot of people who know about it. Angelito was abandoned. What did you see when you were on the ground?

LIU: I've seen a lot of that, too. I think a lot of people do have that idea that it's something that they don't want in their village. They don't want that in their community. They don't really understand it. And I think what they've started doing in African countries, they start having children put on plays for the villagers so that they can understand better how you transmit the disease. How is it something that you can prevent? What you can do. You can use condoms, you can use many different techniques, they show in those little plays, that are entertaining for the villagers and they also educate them on what's happening.

GUPTA: Yes, I was so amazed by how important that is. And in addition to prevention and treatment and everything else that we talk about, Vivian, you know one child got HIV and the other didn't because of intervention. It worked in the case of the family that you just met in that piece. Is this something we can use as a model of success in other places around the world?

VIVIAN LOPEZ, REGIONAL ADVISER, HIV/AIDS: Absolutely. And we are applying preventative mother to child transmission programs around the world. They're extremely effective, they're very affordable and if they're implemented on time, we can have a new generation that's born free of HIV/AIDS.

GUPTA: Forty million deaths or so, maybe more than that now, and lots of orphans left behind.

LIU: Well, a lot of them stay in these orphanages for a very long time. Some of the families try to place them with relatives. Sometimes they don't know what to do with them. I think in Russia they have also a system where they take care of the children but then they don't teach them how to take care of themselves afterwards. It's a situation where it's not just a situation of medicine and disease, it's also a situation of socialization. And that's something we have to think about, their future as well.

GUPTA: How do you decide, Vivian - obviously, you work in the South America and Latin America. So much of this disease is in sub-Saharan Africa as we talked about and saw in the piece. How does a relief organization decide where they're going to put their efforts? Sub- Saharan being the bulk of the disease. More efforts there? More around the world? How does that work?

LOPEZ: Well, we believe every child has the right to survive, so our programs are global and every country we're making efforts to prevent HIV in children. But of course, in the hyperendemic countries, in southern Africa, we have resources. We have an accelerated programs. And we've put a lot more into ensuring that the children there have access to treatment -- 90 percent of the children living with AIDS are in sub-Saharan Africa. So we want to get the treatment to them now.

GUPTA: Lucy, when you talk to people about this issue, because you know, we've been talking about HIV/AIDS for 28 years, 30 years now. When you talk to your friends, when you come back from these trips, do they get it? Do they care about what you care about?

LIU: They do care. I think they're very surprised as to some of the myths and some of the ideas that people might have such as when a child is, you know, when somebody has AIDS, HIV, they think that if they're told by their voodoo doctor if they have intercourse with a newborn or a virgin, that they will rid themselves of this disease. And so therefore, they continue spreading this disease among children and raping them and so the protection aspect comes into play as well. So there's a lot of different thoughts that people don't know about.

GUPTA: This is what you do all the time, Vivian. Do you wake up in the morning optimistic, hopeful or are you thinking boy, there's a lot of work to be done still?

LOPEZ: There's a lot of work to be done but there's a lot of reasons to be optimistic. We're seeing tremendous progress in the number of kids on treatment. It's doubled in the last two years. We're seeing tremendous progress in the number of women who are getting tested so they have a child who doesn't have HIV. We're seeing orphans back in school. We're providing conditional cash transfers to families so that orphans can stay with their community or with their relatives and not have to go to institutions. There's a lot of reasons to be optimistic but we need help. I mean, it's just not enough. Two million kids, only 100,000 on treatment.

GUPTA: Inspiring what you do. Thanks a lot to Lucy, we're keeping you around. Vivian Lopez, thank you very much.

LOPEZ: Thank you so much.

GUPTA: Up next, they're more than stars. They're celebrities with a cause.

ROKER: People, I think don't realize how little it takes. Probably if they didn't have one or two cups of latte or a specialty sandwich, they could change a life. It doesn't take a lot.

GUPTA: Still to come, Al Roker, Ne-Yo and Clay Aiken tell us why helping children is close to their hearts.

Plus, UNICEF welcomes a new ambassador. Who will it be?

Plus.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jill Dougherty in Baghdad. The conflict here in Iraq has widowed at least 70,000 women, leaving tens of thousands of children in jeopardy, sometimes with not enough to eat. "The Survival Project: One Child at a Time," only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My face, my hands, my shirt and my gun were covered with blood. I raised my gun and pulled the trigger and I killed a man. Suddenly as if someone was shooting them inside my brain, all the massacres I had seen since the day I was touched by war began flashing in my head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Do you ever wonder where your donations go? Does your money really help save lives? Later in this show, we're going to tell you where this former child soldier is today and what he's doing to save other children. Welcome back to "The Survival Project: One Child at a Time."

They have found fame in the movies, on the stages, in concert halls and TV shows. Over the decade, some of the world's best known performers have also found a deeper calling, improving the lives of children. UNICEF boasts a long list of big stars who partnered as ambassadors. They tell us why it's so important.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLAY AIKEN, UNICEF AMBASSADOR: UNICEF is extremely recognizable to so many people. Its name is synonymous with children and making sure that their needs are met.

DAYLE HADDON, UNICEF AMBASSADOR: UNICEF has been around for more than 60 years and they have a really strong structure in place.

ROKER: Why wouldn't you want to do whatever you could to help what basically is going to be the future of this planet.

NE-YO: It's a problem that's not going to go away unless we make it go away.

AIKEN: UNICEF not only helps children right on the ground level, but starts working with governments and working with people in positions of power to make sure that things can change.

NICOLE RICHIE, UNICEF SUPPORTER: To save one child's life, that is a step closer to where we want to be.

AMARE STOUDEMIRE, UNICEF SUPPORTER: We can actually change the situation. We have so many kids and so many children dying every day.

ROKER: All life is precious, in that it doesn't take a lot to not only save that life but to change that life.

MARCUS SAMUELSSON, UNICEF AMBASSADOR: When you travel in Africa, you see signs of UNICEF all over. You see the difference of the work that UNICEF has done in all the different countries, no matter what the situation might be, UNICEF is there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Still to come, you've heard from the ambassadors for UNICEF. Now another star is ready to join the ranks. Who will it be?

But first -- an argument over the supply and demand in Ethiopia. When food is scarce and the need is great, how do you keep children from starving?

Plus

DOUGHERTY: Children are the forgotten side of the conflict here in Iraq. They die in car bombings and in cross fire, but they also die from diseases. Inoculations can mean the difference between life and death. "The Survival Project: One Child at a Time."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: They're called casualties of war. Of course, it's not a term you use with a grieving mother whose child has been caught in the crossfire. More than 2 million children have died directly due to armed conflict in the last decade alone. More than 20 million more have been forced to flee their homes and a million have been orphaned. Not a life you'd imagine for any child but it's the reality for thousands living in Iraq.

CNN's Jill Doherty shows us how one child copes when his father was caught in the crossfire.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE

JILL DOHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The midday sun in Baghdad is scorching. Twelve-year-old Karim is on the street, in traffic, looking for customers. He sells gasoline from plastic containers. On a good day, he earns the equivalent of $5. Karim doesn't have time for soccer like these boys. When a roadside bomb exploded recently near him, he went right back to work. It barely fazed him.

KARIM MOHAMMED, GASOLINE SELLER (through translator): I hid the gasoline and went back home for half an hour and then came back here.

DOHERTY: Back to business as usual. Karim hasn't been to school in months.

MOHAMMED: I'd like to return to school but who would support my family?

DOHERTY: Karim's income provides a dollar a day, just a dollar a day, for each member of his family.

GHANIYA MOHHAMMED, KARIM MOHAMMED'S MOTHER: We have nobody to support us but God and Karim.

DOHERTY: His mother, 38 Ghaniya, says her husband was killed in a car jacking four and a half years ago. She's raising four children by herself in a Baghdad shanty town. Ghaniya knows it's a dangerous environment.

(on camera): Violence in the streets is one of Ghaniya's main worries, but so is the filth, the flies and diseases. Despite the turmoil, there's some hope, at least for Ghaniya.

(voice-over): Her children have been inoculated against polio and measles through a UNICEF program in Iraq. The program is administered through Iraqi organizations and the Iraqi government.

Because of the continuing violence here, mortars, crossfire, car bombs, international staff cannot go into the field without heavy military protection. Neighborhoods like Ghaniya's filled with displaced families can be found throughout Iraq. The United Nations says in 2007, the conflict forced 1.2 million Iraqis to flee their homes. The World Health Organization estimates the war has widowed at least 70,000 women. Leaving tens of thousands of children without adequate caregivers. So in that sense, Ghaniya's children are lucky, they still have her and each other.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And back with me is actress Lucy Liu and joining our discussion, Luciano Calestini, he is an emergency specialist with UNICEF in Iraq. Welcome. Lucy, you heard that story. He's expected to provide for his family. He's 12 years old, selling gasoline, bombs going off all around him. You've been in these places. Is that even possible? What kind of future does he and his family have?

LIU: Well, kids start out, as soon as they can walk they're on the streets, on their own, going to school, if they're lucky. Sometimes they are trying to sell, sometimes they'll make out of garbage they'll make some recyclable can into a car and try to sell that to people. I mean, they are trying to make money from the moment they can.

GUPTA: When you talk about the security issues compounded on top of all the other issues of child survival, what do you deal with as a part of a relief organization? How do you secure yourselves and the people you're working with in order to do the work?

LUCIANO CALESTINI, UNICEF EMERGENCY SPECIALIST: I mean, Iraq is probably the most difficult country right now to stay safe. We rely completely on our national staff, our Iraqi staff, to get out into the provinces and to the villages and rural communities because internationals like myself simply can't get their safely.

GUPTA: What is possible, Luciano? You walk into a situation like Iraq, we talked about the fact that we're talking about fixable problems today, is this fixable?

CALESTINI: Yeah. There are degrees of fixability. Today we do have many opportunities to impact the 14 million children in Iraq. Obviously while conflict continues, the degree that we can impact those children is constrained. But what we need is a full-court press. There are so many people that are getting involved, there are a lot of people, though, who are angry and that anger needs to turn into action. And when those people translate that anger into action, and do whatever it is within their sphere of influence to effect the change, whether they become activists or fund-raisers or donors or whatever it is they do, that's what will make a difference. And the issue right now in Iraq is there are 14 million children. Every single one of them has had their childhood defined by either war or sanctions or both. And they are the Iraq of tomorrow. There is nothing else. It's these 14 million children. We have to invest in them today.

GUPTA: Actress Lucy Liu, you're staying with us for the hour. Luciano Calestini, thank you so much.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: Still to come, a former child soldier relives his nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My gun was my provider and protector and my rule was to kill or be killed. We have been fighting for over two years and killing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone.

ANNOUNCER: Where is he today? His story, coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: There's no need for a child under the age of five to die. While millions of parents have access to doctors, pediatrician often are another story. But there's a new simple strategy that could change all that. It's the packaging of goods such as immunizations, rehydration salts, bed nets and more. Ethiopia is just one of the countries that has been tested. The country I'm in, here in Peru, might soon follow. My colleague, Wilf Dinnick shows us how it works.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILF DINNICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the village of Abu Dora (ph), population 4,000, word is spreading. There may be a way on this day, to save some of the most vulnerable children.

Ethiopia has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world. And malnutrition is responsible for half of the deaths among those under five. And it is 100 percent preventable. So in Ethiopia, they are hiring and training an army of young women to become health care workers, 30,000 of them and they're fanning out all over the country.

Jamala Aliyyi brought her daughter, Chalte (ph), for help. Using a simple tool, they can tell if little Chalte is in danger. The sides of her biceps indicate fat levels, an indication as to whether she is getting enough food. Green is okay but red means severe, acute malnutrition. Simply put, about a month to live. Chalte was referred to another clinic, about a day and a half walk from here.

Everyone gets vitamin A drops to boost immune systems and immunizations to prevent diseases. All at a cost of just 50 cents per child. But it is a constant battle. Six million children under the age of five, says UNICEF, live in areas hit hard by drought. And now, food prices are soaring. BJORN LJUNGQVIST, UNICEF REPRESENTATIVE IN ETHIOPIA: It's an awful crisis. And more people than we expect, than the government expected, need additional food. And for that purpose it's really serious that our ability to get that extra food right now isn't curtailed.

DINNICK: That means likely more cases of malnourishment in remote villages. But with this new outreach program, health workers now have eyes on the ground, not just looking for sick children but teaching malaria prevention, another leading killer. And the basics of hygiene.

DR. ASSAYE KASSIE: Now we have deployed health care workers at the household, at the community level. They'll be able to pick up the diseases that are killing our kids.

DINNICK (on camera): A massive challenge because this is a poor country with very little infrastructure. They'll have to supply all these drugs and support all the workers over this vast country.

(voice-over): But already signs of success. Parents who have made the trek from rural villages to this hospital, children referred by the new health workers. And sure enough, where we ran into Jamala and daughter Chulte. It is decided Chulte does not need long-term care, just a dose of Plumpy Nut, a supplement packed with nutrients. A healthy appetite, we're told, is a good sign.

JAMALA ALIYYI, VILLAGE WOMAN: "Thank God for this," she says. She had nowhere to go for treatment. Jamala gets the all clear with a supply of Plumpy Nut carried on her head. One small life saved, perhaps more promising road ahead for Ethiopia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And we're back with humanitarian Lucy Liu and director of global programs for UNICEF, Dr. Nicholas Alipui. Thank you, welcome.

NICHOLAS ALIPUI, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL PROGRAMS, UNICEF: Thank you.

GUPTA: As we started I'm pleased to announce that the newest UNICEF celebrity ambassador, lead singer and guitarist, Joel Madden of the multi-platinum-selling rock band, Good Charlotte, is here. Please welcome him.

Welcome.

Congratulations. How does this work? Do you get a call, look, we want you to be an ambassador? What happens?

JOEL MADDEN, MUSICIAN: Well, not really like that. I've been touring with my band for about 10 years, for about a decade, trying to basically become active on my own, travel around the world with my brother. And then I started a children's foundation with my girlfriend and my brother and kind of becoming more aware of UNICEF. And they gave me the opportunity to get involved with the TAP Project which raises money for clean water. It's an amazing project. We did a PSA for the Myanmar disaster and then they asked me to become an ambassador and I was honored. I was really excited.

GUPTA: Well, congratulations again. You saw Wolf Dinnick's piece there, Joel. Fifty cents a day, they talk about being able to provide all those services. How many lives could you have saved yesterday?

MADDEN: Yesterday? I mean, everyday. I mean, one dollar, in the TAP Project one dollar gives 40 children a day clean water. It's amazing. And the thing I love about UNICEF, they explain every dollar. They break it down so you know where the money is going and it gives you a vision of how many children you're helping every single day.

GUPTA: Dr. Alipui, some of the things make a lot of sense. You've been explaining some of this for some time. It makes sense to people that you have these interventions and lives are saved as a result. How do we get that message across? What do you tell people?

ALIPUI: The way we do it is that we try to show it by results. The fact that for the first time we've been able to break through the 10 million a year barrier under five mortality, the number of children dying every year, or the fact that we've been able to roll back measles deaths by 90 percent, which is a phenomenal achievement, or the increasing, expanding coverage with insecticide treated mosquito nets, these results speak far, far more than anything that I can say about just how important it is to stand together and work for child survival.

GUPTA: What are you holding there? What is that? What is that?

ALIPUI: This is the piece that was on the clip just now. And I just wanted to show just how tiny the arm of a child needs to get for us to have severe acute malnutrition. It is this small. That's how small the circumference of the arm, mid upper arm gets. It is a reflection of the fact that there's so much work yet to be done to try and save children's lives.

GUPTA: Lucy, are we going to get to the point where we don't need UNICEF anymore? It's just not a necessary organization?

LIU: I hope so. I think the less space there is between us and understanding of other countries that there is no space between us, they'll be an understanding that we are all one unit. And it's not about politics. It's not about war. It's about children and survival and in that sense, it will unite us in such a positive way to understand that when you share, when you truly share, you are giving back to yourself.

GUPTA: Joel, you have a daughter. I have two daughters. How much of a role does that play in your desire to be a part of this and your desire to go around the world?

MADDEN: It's a huge role, not only just because - I've always loved children, but once i had a child myself, I look at every single child and think of my own child. And every child, just to think that 26,000 children die everyday from simple things that we can prevent, it blows my mind. But it's not a number that I can't wrap my head around. I can see 26,000 people every night when I play a concert. You can envision 26,000 children everyday. It's something we can do in our lifetime, we can get it to zero.

GUPTA: Terrific discussion. Inspiring as well. Joel Madden, congratulations again, Dr. Nicholas Alipui, Lucy Liu, thank you very much.

ANNOUNCER: Coming up, when your life depends on taking someone else's. What do you do? What do you, when you're 12 years old and forced to make this awful decision? Still to come, we'll see where this child soldier is today and show what he's doing to help end this awful cycle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Throughout this hour you've heard the voice of a young boy, a boy whose childhood was a casualty of war, a boy forced to pick up a gun and kill at the age of 12. Who is that child? What's his story? Where is he today? Let him tell you for himself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISHMAEL BAEH, UNICEF ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN: My name is Ishmael Beah, I was born on November 23rd, 1980 in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I went to school. I played football, what you call soccer in the United States. I lived the life a very normal child. The civil war started in 1991. I began to see mothers carrying their children or fathers carrying their dead sons in their arms.

My mother, father and two brothers were killed in the war. People also began to kill young people, strongly, because of what they were forced to do, recruited into the various armies.

So as children we became afraid. This is the life of a child. In the beginning it was a strong sense of coercion. If you didn't do what you were told, you'd be killed. You knew your life depended upon taking someone else's life.

I am the UNICEF advocate of children affected by war. Recently one of the things I did was in Jamaica. There's a strong gang violence that affects the youth population tremendously. There's a willingness of young people to talk to me as an advocate because I lived the experience. They see a kind of kinship.

Before the war reached the capital -

The public speaking I don't think is necessarily enjoyable because it's very difficult every time to remember the war and to speak about it. But I know it's important to do. I know when people meet me and they speak to me, I'm showing them the possibilities that people can come out of this.

Without UNICEF I wouldn't be here. Because if they hadn't come to Sierra Leone and removed me from the war, I probably would have died in the war. And my existence would have not been known to anyone at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Looking for ways to get involved? Still to come, we'll show you how to access a complete list of agencies working to make a difference.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: This past hour we've traveled around the world to introduce you to children in need. And people who are committed to improving the lives of those children. However, no one person, no one organization, can do everything. But each of us can make a difference. Here's how you can impact your world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): A face no one will forget, five- year-old Yousef. Horribly scarred when attackers in Iraq dumped gasoline on him and set him on fire. People like you donated money to pay for his operations. You logged on to CNN's "Impact Your World" and gave more than $300,000. For the first time in ten months, Yousef is able to smile again. Now, that's impact.

ANN M. VENERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: The American public is very generous. Probably the most generous public in the entire world.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you continue to give to thousands of children whose lives were torn apart in the China earthquake.

CARYL STERN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, U.S. FUND FOR UNICEF: Children are children. They shouldn't be defined by their borders. Those of us blessed enough to be able to do something about it need to be part of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine point seven million children die around the world every year of preventable causes. It's a staggering number but it used to be higher, 13 million. It's coming down because of donors like you and organizations like UNICEF. As little as 50 cents a day is enough to be part of that success and save a child's life.

STERN: We're going to be in your grocery store, we're going to be at the club you belong to. We're going to be at your child's school. We're going to find you on the street and we're going to say to you, help us. I believe the American people will help us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Logon to cnn.com/impact and make a difference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You just saw how your actions and compassions helped save little Yousef. Remember, less than a dollar a day can make a huge difference. There are hundreds of agencies you can support. You can go to our Web site for a complete list. Don't let skepticism replace action or cynicism replace compassion. That's all our time this hour. I'd like to thank our UNICEF ambassadors and our guest panelists for joining us today and thank you for being a part of "The Survival Project: One Child at a Time." Thank you.

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