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L.A. Times Travel Show: Why Alyssa Milano has seen Angola, not Paris

Alyssa Milano is a big give-back girl. The actress known for TV shows "Charmed" and "Mistresses" has traveled to some of the darkest spots on the planet in her role as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF.

"I've never been to Italy, never been to Paris, but I've been to Angola and Iraq," she said in a recent phone interview.

Milano will discuss why she goes and what she has learned from her fieldwork at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show at 3 p.m. Saturday. Meet her and other featured speakers Arthur Frommer, Adam Richman and Henry Rollins at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend.

Milano focuses her work on the health of mothers and children, with a heavy emphasis on stemming the spread of HIV and AIDS.

In 2010 her visit to the settlement of Kolonia in western Kosovo was "the hardest experience I've had on a field visit," she wrote in a blog post at the time. Milano witnessed poor living conditions, specifically a waste dump close to the settlement where children spent time looking for metal to sell or scavenging for food.

"To see people live in this kind of poverty is horrifying and unacceptable," she wrote.

Prior trips include a 2004 visit to Angola where she spoke with HIV-positive women and met with people disfigured by land mines as a result of the country's brutal civil war.

Two years later, she went to India after the deadly tsunami on a similar mission and met mothers who showed her their terrible living conditions after having been displaced from their homes.

These days, Milano stays closer to home as mom to toddler Milo. She remains active with UNICEF and also works to raise awareness of the health alliance the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control, which aims to wipe out bacterial and parasitic diseases worldwide.

"The value I take away from these trips is that we're all exactly the same," she said. "The only thing that's different are social issues.... We all want the same things for our children, we all struggle with the impoverished, the malnourished, people who don't get proper healthcare."

You can find the schedule and ticket information at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show event website.

Mary.Forgione@latimes.com
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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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