With Inputs from DNA India
Ace cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who recently retired from cricket, has started the second innings of his life as the UNICEF ambassador for South Asia. Tendulkar in the capacity of a good will ambassador will aid UNICEF for the next two years, in promoting hygiene and sanitation in South Asian countries including India.
The cricket star on Thursday quoted an anecdote from his childhood at a press conference, Tendulkar nostalgically said, “It is imperative to make children understand the importance of washing hands. I can speak for myself, when as a kid I would play cricket with my friends, I would want to come back home and eat without washing my hands. My mother insisted that I wash my hands first and ate with clean hands.”
“I look forward to working with children and communities in the region, urging them to use toilets and wash their hands. This is the second innings of my life that I am serving with UNICEF and it means a lot to me,” he further said.
According to UNICEF, 68 lakh people practice open defecation in South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan, defecate in open.
“Of these, 60 lakh persons that defecate in open are in India alone. Mindsets of people need to be changed and they be made to understand the importance of using a toilet for better sanitation,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF regional director, South Asia.
Tendulkar was baffled at the large number of children dying every day due to waterborne diseases. “1600 children die every day due to diarrhoea related infections. By not washing hands after defecation allows person to carry germs back home. Many diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, worms and respiratory illnesses are caused because of our negligence and a child cannot pay the price of an adult’s mistake,” he said.
Tendulkar expressed that he would achieve something in his second innings of life if he was able to bring down the number of child mortality due to diarrhoea related diseases. “I would have achieved something in my post cricketing years, if we could contribute to bringing down such astronomical numbers in terms of people getting affected due to poor sanitation and hygiene,” he said.