Priyanka Chopra - Indian actress, singer, producer, philanthropist, writer and model

Priyanka Chopra - Indian actress, singer, producer, philanthropist, writer and model

Priyanka Chopra is an Indian actress, singer, producer, philanthropist, writer and model, made famous by her election as Miss World in 2000, then revealed to the general public internationally in 2015 thanks to her role in the American series 'Quantico'.

She is one of the most recognized artists in India, and receives numerous awards. The Indian government awards her the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India. Time lists her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and Forbes as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
In 2010 and again in 2016, UNICEF named her an International Goodwill Ambassador for Children's Rights, and her eponymous Health and Education Foundation works to provide support to India's underprivileged children.
She is also the founder of the production company Purple Pebble Pictures, through which she helps produce several regional Indian films.

Priyanka has been associated with UNICEF for many years and recently traveled to Warsaw, Poland to meet refugees from the war in Ukraine. Although they were able to escape the war zone, being forced to leave their homes and become refugees overnight put the citizens in great danger.
After meeting them at a refugee site, Priyanka was able to highlight their plight and raise awareness about the psychological impact of war. "An aspect that is not often discussed but is very prevalent in a time of crisis is the psychological impact on refugees. I met with so many women and children who are trying to cope with the horrors they have witnessed in this war. Unicef responded in Poland and in the region by ensuring that teams of psychologists are available to help mothers and children at the Blue Dot centres, the Child Development centres, the Education Hubs and other touch points."

She speaks out on this topic repeatedly on social media, sharing numerous photos and videos in which she can be seen playing with Ukrainian children, sharing activities like drawing and painting with them. In them, she talks about playful interaction as a very effective tool to help children regain a sense of normalcy.
"It sounds so simple, but through play, children can find safety and respite, while also being able to explore and process what is happening in their lives. When children are driven from their homes by war, conflict, or displacement of any kind, access to nurturing relationships with parents, caregivers, and peers are critical buffers to the effects of violence, distress, and other adverse experiences."

She also reveals the children's great enthusiasm for working with art, as well as the positive evolution of their emotions through art therapy.
"Coffee beans, salts and regular household items are used for art therapy and sensitivity therapy. When they work with different materials, as well as paints and colors, the therapists are able to understand their emotions. In the beginning for example, the children would draw with very dark colors, and over time the colors got brighter. Another example is handmade dolls that I was gifted by Ukrainian children at each Programme I visited with Unicef.  Each is unique and is believed to have the power of protection, which  these children really need right now as the war is upending the lives and futures of the countries 5.7 million school aged children."


The actress also exchanged with refugee women. Very moved, she tells about her meeting with Svetlana and her 4-year-old son Ilya. "With tears streaming down her face she told me how she left her husband, parents and home overnight because her son hid under the bed, terrified of the sounds of the sirens and explosions, that became an everyday occurrence in Kyiv. She said she had no choice but to protect her child. As a new mother I was so moved by her resilience. There is nothing more powerful than a mother's instinct to protect her own."

Moreover, she points to the fact that the war in Ukraine is a crisis that particularly affects women and children, accounting for 90% of the refugees alone.
"I've seen it for myself across the various Unicef supported programmes during my visit to Poland. Every woman I met has deeply touched and inspired me. These women are putting their own trauma aside to nurture and protect children. They are mothers, daughters, caregivers, teachers, volunteers, psychologists and so much more… each shouldering the responsibility of their families while displaced from their homes.In addition to taking care of their families, many of are working several jobs. The Early Childhood Development centers, summer camps and education hubs supported by Unicef  give them the much-needed time and space to do that, providing a free safe space where they can safely leave their children, while they go out and try to rebuild their lives.Many told me how they try to smile through the pain just so that the children have a sense of hope. They said they don’t really have anyone to share their fears and feelings with, which is why psychosocial support is so important. The invisible psychological wounds of war are often the least talked about but the most devastating for a child."

In a video shared on Instagram, the actress explains the impact of war on children. She insists that "the situation in Ukraine is far from over...it is one of the largest 'human displacement crises' in the world, both in size and scope."
According to UN estimates, since February 24, the beginning of the war in Ukraine, nearly 2 million children have been forced to leave everything to seek safety in neighboring countries. This is "one of the most rapid large-scale displacements of children since the Second World War. None of these children will ever be the same after what we have seen," says Priyanka Chopra.

"We cannot stand by and watch." The UNICEF Ambassador is urging world leaders to come to the aid of refugees. She appealed on Instagram, "World leaders, we need you to stand up for refugees around the WORLD to ensure that they get the support they need now," also reminding in another post that the war is still going on and with winter approaching, the number of refugees could increase, as well as the need for support. "We all need to step up to make sure that the women and the families affected by this war are not forgotten."

Priyanka Chopra shared a UNICEF donation link on social media to help children in Ukraine:

https://www.unicef.org/emergencies/war-ukraine-pose-immediate-threat-children.

 

© Photo: UN Women - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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