They Often Cry Outreach (TOCO) is pleased to announce the appointment of St. Lucian musician and philanthropist Taj Weekes as UNICEF's Champion of Children in St. Lucia. The official announcement was made Tuesday, November 19th in Derek Walcott Square at the center of Castries, St. Lucia's capital, during the launch of the Break The Silence Campaign (BTS), a global initiative embraced by several countries to advocate for the rights of children and raise awareness of a wide range of issues including physical and sexual abuse. Weekes will be working with St. Lucia's Ministry of Health, Gender and Social Development and other government entities to work on issues such as health, education and equality for all children. In his role as a UNICEF Champion of Children, Weekes will use his celebrity to bring these issues to the forefront. As he eloquently states, "When poverty, violence and disease are discussed, no one thinks about the Caribbean. It's just a place to vacation and sit in the sun. People don't know that St. Lucia has one of the highest rates of diabetes per capita in the world. They look at the bare feet of the children playing soccer in the street and don't realize it's because they have no shoes. It's my mission to expand awareness and aid for these issues which equally affect the Caribbean, especially for the children and youth."
In appointing Weekes as a Champion of Children, UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area, Ms. Khin-Sandi Lwin states, "UNICEF is very pleased to have Taj Weekes on board as we work on bringing together a network of credible voices to advocate for the rights of Caribbean Children. His passion to care for children though his music and philanthropic work are the perfect ingredients to be UNICEF's Champion for Children in St. Lucia, his home country. We look forward to working closely with him in applying his creative talents and networking skills to highlight the plight of children in St Lucia. UNICEF will also help him link up with other Champions for Children in the Eastern Caribbean countries to have the strength of numbers for a powerful Voice for Children."
UNICEF recognizes Weekes' commitment to defending a child's right to health, education, equality, protection and participation - all principles Weekes advocates in his music and his charitable works through TOCO - his not for profit children's charity that is dedicated to improving the lives of Caribbean children through sports, health and enrichment programs. In addition to his work on the BTS campaign, UNICEF has tasked Weekes to use his position and influence for "social mobilization, advocacy and influencing social debates to make children's rights increasingly protected, respected and realized throughout a child's lifecycle."
Weekes' music has always been a merging of entertainment and humanity - commenting on societies ills, including the plight of children. His 2010 release, A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen, features the track "Sunny Innocents", about child sexual abuse. In it, he boldly states 'Sunny innocents are lost to the woods, sunny innocents the guardians are no good, sunny innocents I pray their souls to keep, sunny innocents the wolf can't guard the sheep.' With this new position, he will continue to use his voice on behalf of the voiceless.