Champion golfer Rory McIlroy made his first official humanitarian trip as a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador this week, visiting newly built schools, a maternal centre, and camps for displaced people in Haiti.
“It was important to me that my first visit as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador be a place like Haiti, where I can see what is being accomplished and what challenges remain,” McIlroy said during a two-day visit to the Caribbean nation, which is still suffering from the effects of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.
UNICEF Representative in Haiti Françoise Gruloos-Ackermans accompanied the young sportsman to several schools, pointing out the progress made in helping rebuild Haiti’s educational infrastructure.
“Most Haitians, particularly in rural areas, do not have access to even the most basic of services like education and healthcare,” said Ms. Gruloos-Ackermans. “Visits by McIlroy and other humanitarian supporters bring attention to these needs and highlight the work that UNICEF and its partners are doing to address this and help children in Haiti realise their rights to education, protection and healthcare.”
Accompanied by a delegation from UNICEF Ireland, Rory McIlroy helped distribute cholera prevention supplies to people displaced by the earthquake. He also visited a UNICEF-funded child-friendly space in a displacement camp, which provides children with a safe environment in which to play sports and games.
At a junior school re-built by UNICEF following the quake, taught children to wash their hands properly as one way of helping to protect themselves against cholera. The disease has caused more than 5,000 deaths, including many children.
The Haiti trip is McIlroy’s first such visit since becoming a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador in March. It comes days before he plays in next week's US Open golf championship at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.