Earlier this week, ABC’s “Nightline” aired a program that followed members of UNICEF and actress/producer Salma Hayek as they helped mothers and children in Sierra Leone struggling with maternal and neonatal tetanus, the top cause of death among these mothers and babies.
Hayek went to Sierra Leone as the spokesperson for the Pampers “One Pack = One Vaccine” campaign. Pampers parent company Proctor and Gamble agreed to donate one tetanus vaccine to UNICEF for every pack of specially marked Pamper diapers purchased. According to ABC News, UNICEF plans to attempt to eliminate tetanus worldwide by 2012.
Hayek actively and happily took part in the trip, administering vaccinations to women, spending time with the women and children and seeing firsthand the reality of the world they live in. But what emerged on the news this morning was not so much about Hayek’s humanitarian efforts as it was about the fact that while on the trip, she breastfed a malnourished infant. Hayek, whose daughter Valentina is 16 months old, was weaning her daughter at the time of the trip.
Message boards rapidly lit up as the video of Hayek nursing the child hit the Internet. The opinions of the act were mixed to say the least.
“There is something even weirder about the bizarre subversive statement it makes…..that we can feed your children, even though you can’t. It’s one thing to do something like this privately, and its (sic) another to televise it.”
“I never thought much of Salma in the past, but this simple act of kindness has changed my view of her. I feel that most of the people on here who are knocking her, are seeing this as some kind of perverted sexual act.”
“If you saw a hungry baby and had the milk to feed it, wouldn’t you? Don’t overthink (sic) it–she was just doing what comes naturally as a mother. As a mother myself, I can tell you she would have done it without the cameras.”
That does raise an important question: If you were in the same position as Hayek, would you do the same? Furthermore, the situation begs the question: Was Hayek sincere or was it all just a media stunt?
In regards to the first question, I personally believe Hayek was sincere. She has been involved in a great deal of organizations throughout her career including ONE, National Domestic Violence Hotline, V-Day (movement to stop violence against women and girls) and First Star (charity dedicated to child abuse victims). Combine this with being a recent mother herself and you have selflessness and a simple desire to help a suffering child.
If it was just a media stunt, it certainly got people’s attention.
For more information about the “1 Pack = 1 Vaccine” campaign, visit www.unicefusa.org or call 1-800-4-UNICEF.
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