Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 May 2015

Keira Knightley felt powerless on charity trip

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley "never felt more useless" than during her charity trip to Chad.

The newly-engaged actress travelled to the poverty-stricken country in March for UNICEF. She was stunned when she saw the conditions that children were living in and was particularly moved by one visit to a rehabilitation centre. There she met four-year-old Idris, who contracted polio when he was just 18-months-old. The boy is paralysed from the waist down, but has been given leg braces to help improve his mobility.

"[He] is the bravest, most determined little boy I have ever met," Keira wrote in a diary entry published by British magazine Radio Times. "That child had a will to walk like I've never seen [Idris' dad] said that every day he came home from work he prayed he'd see Idris running around with the other kids and would then see him in the house, alone, trying to crawl.

"The worst part of the day came when Idris' dad asked why I was here, if I had come to cure his son. I've never felt more useless in my life. No I can't cure him, I can't make him walk and I wish with every fibre of my being that I could."

Keira is helping UNICEF raise awareness about struggling countries such as Chad.

In another diary entry she revealed that in a population of around 11 million, one in five children will die before they are five. Many of the diseases that affect kids in the country are preventable - often with a simple vaccine. However, only 30 per cent of children in Chad are fully immunised.

"Immunisation is not only a life saver from deadly preventable diseases like measles, tetanus and polio. It is also the entry point for mothers and children into the health system. The beginning is always immunisation," she explained.

During her flight to Chad, Keira admitted she knew little about the country.

She also confessed that she felt anxious at the prospect of witnessing such poverty and disease.

"I had no idea where it was when they told me I was going. It seems rude not to know where a country is. I feel I should apologise as soon as I land," she wrote. "My heart's beating and I can't figure out if I've drunk too much coffee or I'm nervous. Nervous of what's here."

On Sunday, a charity match - Soccer Aid - was held at Old Trafford in England to raise money for UNICEF. Stars including Will Ferrell, Mike Myers, Gerard Butler, Edward Norton, Woody Harrelson, James McAvoy, Gordon Ramsay, Robbie Williams and Michael Sheen took part.

England took on a team made up of celebrities and soccer legends from around the world and won the game 3 -1. The event raised an impressive £4 million.

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