Acclaimed producer Firdaus Kharas fighting malaria with animation campaign



    Initial production funding from the Canadian Red Cross

    OTTAWA, Nov. 26 /CNW Telbec/ -Firdaus Kharas, a multi-award winning
animation producer and director, is pleased to announce the creation of
animated Public Service Announcements to provide an educational tool for those
trying to reduce malaria infections in Africa. Initial funding of $25,000 is
being provided by the Canadian Red Cross to support the project.
    "During my travels in Africa, I have been struck by the fact that more
children die of malaria than any other disease. I want to support the efforts
of organizations like the Canadian Red Cross, which help prevent malaria
through massive free net distributions in Africa," says Director and Producer
Firdaus Kharas.
    "My colleagues and I will create a series featuring two animated female
mosquitoes that highlight the importance of using bed-nets and other
educational messages to help prevent malaria in a fun and engaging way.
Creating a series of world-class animated spots will provide an important tool
that can be easily and widely used by broadcasters, non-governmental
organizations, hospitals, schools and others to educate vulnerable communities
on how to protect themselves from malaria."
    Initially five spots will be created with a total of 30 spots planned,
subject to funding. The series will be provided free-of-charge to any
organization requesting to use them. A comprehensive website, www.bednets.ca,
is being developed where copies of tapes and DVDs can be requested online.
This campaign builds on the success of The Three Amigos, an animated HIV/AIDS
prevention campaign supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with 20 spots in
41 languages currently in use in 72 countries.
    "We are very pleased to be able to partner with Mr. Kharas on this
important initiative to prevent malaria infections, which will greatly
complement our existing malaria prevention campaigns," says Paul Wharram,
Interim Secretary General of the Canadian Red Cross. "The distribution of nets
is most effective when accompanied with a strong public education component.
This will be a great supporting tool for local Red Cross volunteers in Africa
to use during the distributions."
    In Africa, one child dies every 30 seconds from malaria. Each year,
between 350 million and 500 million people are infected with malaria around
the world. Even though malaria is preventable and treatable, it currently
threatens over 40 per cent of the world's population. The majority of deaths
from malaria are young children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa.
There is no vaccine against malaria; the best defence is prevention.

    Firdaus Kharas:

    Firdaus Kharas has been publicly acknowledged as a "world renowned"
director and producer of animation, film and television media. His current
work focuses on creating various types of media to affect societal and
individual behavioural change through mass communications. These media
initiatives have a universal appeal in that they span many cultures and
countries to better the human condition.
    In the last three years, Mr. Kharas' media work has garnered
60 international awards. These include the Peabody, CINE Golden Eagle, Telly,
Platinum Remi, Chris, Hugo, Golden Reel, Gold World Medal in New York and
First Prize at the Chicago International Children's Festival.
    Mr. Kharas, who is Ottawa-based, owns and operates Chocolate Moose Media
Inc. Further information can be found at www.kharas.ca. The Three Amigos
HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme site is www.thethreeamigos.org.

    The Canadian Red Cross:

    The Canadian Red Cross works with Red Cross Societies in Africa to
provide nets free-of-charge in some of the world's most malaria-affected
countries. Red Cross has delivered more than three million nets directly to
families in Togo, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Niger, Mozambique, Malawi and
Madagascar, thanks to the generous support of the Canadian International
Development Agency and Canadian donors.
    Canadians wishing to support the Campaign Against Malaria are encouraged
to donate online at www.malariabites.net, calling toll-free 1-800-418-1111 or
by contacting their local Canadian Red Cross office. Cheques should be made
payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked "Campaign Against Malaria" and
mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite
300; Ottawa, Ontario; K2P 2P2.
    The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red
Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and
185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Its mission is to improve
the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada
and around the world.




For further information:

For further information: and interviews: Kita Szpak, KS Communications.,
(613) 798-8333, (613) 725-3063, contactkita@rogers.com or kita@sympatico.ca;
Canadian Red Cross Media Line, (613) 740-1994, malariabites@redcross.ca


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