SAGAR SHRESTHA/UNICEF NEPAL
At age six, Kuronayagi learnt what it meant to go hungry. Suffering terrible bombings every day, her family struggled to survive. Today, a sprightly 72-year-old Kuronayagi travels to Africa, war zones and under-developed countries as UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador.
"Because of what I went through as a child, when I see hungry children I know how they feel, and I know that I must help," said Kuronayagi during a visit to Nepal this week during which she visited mothers with AIDS in Syangja and schools in Kaski.
Sitting by the lake in Pokhara earlier this week Kuronayagi said it was the United Nations that helped children like her survive the aftermath of war by providing food and clothing.
Stage actress-turned-tv personality, Kuronayagi, is called Japan's Oprah Winfrey, with her talk show program Tetsuko's Room drawing more than 13 million viewers every day. She has served as UNICEFs ambassador since 1984 and has raised $30 million in Japan for the organisation's projects for children and women worldwide.
In her first visit to Nepal, Kuronayagi was accompanied by a tv crew from Asahi which is producing a documentary to be aired on her show to help raise money for Nepali children. While here, she also appeared on Bhusan Dahal's Fireside show.
Twenty years ago, 14 million children were dying worldwide every year of preventable causes. Today, according to UNICEF, that figure is down to 9.4 million even though the number of children has doubled.
Kuronayagi remembers a child in Tamil Nadu who was dying of tetanus who looked at her and said: "I wish you happiness." It was a shock to her how patient children are, how innocent and how they don't blame others. Says Kuronayagi: "That is when I thought I never understood children, we always blame others. I told myself I will work for children. I know I can't save them all, but even if I can save one, I will be very happy."