Pau Gasol beginning new initiative with UNICEF

Pau Gasol’s tone sounded serious. So did his facial expressions. So did his words.

The Lakers forward spoke up about something in the camera above far more consequential than his frustrations under Mike D’Antoni or his uncertain future donning the purple and gold.

“This is not my story. This is Michel’s story. His country was devastated by a typhoon,” Gasol said as part of the Voices of Children in Emergencies campaign led by UNICEF and the European Union. “Since his voice is not being heard, I’ll lend him mine.”

The 13-year-old Michel is from San Rogue, Tanauan, part of the Leyte island that makes up part of the Philippines. The region suffered last year from a typhoon that killed a reported 6,268 people. Among those victims included Michel’s teacher, who drowned amid the carnage.

As a result, the European Union and UNICEF collaborated to tell the stories surrounding the millions of children affected by both natural disasters and conflicts. Numerous athletes and celebrities appeared on various public service announcements through this initiative, including soccer player Robert Lewandowski (Poland), basketball players Bostjan Nachbar (Slovenia), actress Evanna Lynch (Ireland), actor Imanol Arias (Spain), journalist Pavlos Tsimas (Greece), journalist and writer Roberto Cotroneo (Italy) and TV presenter and actress Gaia Amaral (Italy).

Gasol also helped out after serving as a UNICEF ambassador that entailed trips to South Africa (2005), Angola (2007), Ehtiopia (2010), Chad (2012) and Iraq (2014). As for Gasol’s latest project, it also entails UNICEF and the European Union asking others to share the victim’s stories through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook,

Meanwhile, both organizations routinely assist with humanitarian relief efforts in those regions affected by natural disasters. Specifically in the Philippines, they report their funding helped various causes: 83,000 children ranging from six months to four years became immunized against measles, 55 villages received health services and an unspecified number of health facilities affected by the typhoon had their services restored.

“There are millions of children like Michel, survivors of humanitarian emergencies,” Gasol said. “Help us tell their story. Help us raise their voices.”

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For once, Pau Gasol has leverage with the Lakers

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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