Fondly called the “God of Cricket” or “Master Blaster,” Sachin Tendulkar is considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time in the sport that is considered a national institution in India, cricket. But Mr Tendulkar has many feathers to his cap. He is also a member of parliament and has been involved in promoting and supporting several social causes in India relating to health care and education.
Mr Tendulkar has been associated with UNICEF for more than a decade now and has supported various of the organization’s causes. In 2003, he put his weight behind an initiative to create awareness about polio and promote polio prevention in India. Since 2008, he has been significantly involved with UNICEF in creating and promoting hygiene and sanitation in communities. In 2013, he was appointed UNICEF Ambassador for South Asia to advocate this important cause all the region.
Commenting on the importance of health and hygiene and his support for the cause, Mr Tendulkar says: “I always look forward to working towards the betterment of children and UNICEF has provided me with the right platform. Sanitation has a strong connection not only with personal hygiene but also with human dignity, wellbeing, public health, nutrition and education. I chose to be a part of the hygiene and sanitation programmes because following simple practices can contribute to a hygienic lifestyle which is important for the good health of children and women, and to protect them against deadly diseases.”
In recent years, Mr Tendulkar has spread awareness about sanitation and hygiene in every home through two key initiatives: the importance of handwashing before and after meals and the importance of using toilets for defecation. Both these campaigns aim to make children aware about basic personal hygiene so that they can become healthier as well as to spread the message to their friends and families by creating awareness about the issue.
Every year, more than half a million South Asian children aged under five die of diarrhoea caused by unsafe drinking water, lack of sanitation and poor hygiene behaviours. South Asia is also the region with the highest number of people without toilets: about 680 million people don’t use toilets, leading to life-threatening infections, diseases and epidemics. Creating awareness against this risk is therefore a key requirement and one Mr Tendulkar is very much committed to.
The iconic sportsman has unique power and appeal to people in India. More than simply an international cricket star, he is an idol for many people and especially children who look up to him. It is this unique role that allows him to be a voice listened to by both children and their parents, and a highly effective messenger to spread the word about better health, hygiene and sanitation.
Mr Tendulkar has travelled to the interiors of India to speak to children. One of his key visits was to the Ratnagiri district in the western state of Maharashtra where he interacted with the visually challenged boys and girls staying at a residential school. Mr. Tendulkar, whose visit to the school brought a wave of excitement and happiness to these oft-forgotten children, talked to the children about the importance of hygiene, handwashing and sanitation and made them promise to spread the same message among their peers and families.
In addition to sanitation and hygiene and polio, Mr. Tendulkar has also lent his support to AIDS awareness. His continuous commitment to improving the lives of children has helped reach out to a wide spectrum of people across the country and bring big important messages to their attention. With Mr Tendulkar's support, UNICEF has been able to bring significant improvement in the hygiene lifestyle of children in the remote areas of the country, bringing them to health and happiness.