We have launched the UNICEF Fund for Global Citizenship!
This January, the U.S. Fund will name eight Global Citizenship Fellows in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. These Fellows will embark on an unprecedented, year-long adventure that will challenge them to be a powerful voice for children around the world.
As the U.S. Fund for UNICEF staff member who will work the closest with the Global Citizenship Fellows, I find myself hopeful and excited about the impact that these eight, fellows will make, not only in their immediate surroundings, but for children everywhere.
Never before has UNICEF had U.S. envoys at the local level in a full-time capacity, dedicated 100% to raising awareness about UNICEF’s lifesaving work. Through supporting U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s current partnerships and creating new, lasting relationships with community groups, schools, and local nonprofits, Fellows will expand UNICEF’s reach exponentially and will bring the plight of voiceless children from all corners of the world, to their local communities.
It is a critical time to have advocates on the ground, engaging Americans in emerging and protracted emergencies that desperately need the attention of the global community.
Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of children in the Horn of Africa who are severely malnourished due to the worst drought in decades; Children in flood-affected Pakistan are without clean water and shelter. The Global Citizenship Fellows will be critical in the effort to energize, educate, and inspire local communities to care about children around the world, like those suffering in the Horn of Africa and Pakistan, and DO something about it.
Before joining the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, I worked in international development and without fail, no matter where I was – Thailand, Cambodia, Haiti, or Uganda – UNICEF was there, working to ensure the health and safety of children.
I have always respected UNICEF’s work, but I will never forget the moment that solidified my admiration for the organization. Six months after the shattering earthquake in Haiti, I traveled to Port-au-Prince to work for a Haitian health organization in an internally displaced persons camps.
My trip to Haiti coincided with the World Cup and despite the devastation and suffering that people were enduring, the city was overwhelmed with soccer frenzy. One morning, I was standing outside of one of the biggest internally displaced persons camps with a large crowd watching a televised soccer game, when a little girl came up beside me and took my hand. She smiled at me as she eagerly chomped away at her sachet of Ready to Eat Therapeutic Food. This tiny packet gave her lifesaving calories, vitamins, and minerals, which would help her survive this extremely insecure time in her life.
I looked around and saw the bright blue UNICEF flag among the makeshift tents and rubble and realized that, if nothing else, the children of this camp were being taken care of. It was a formative moment for me and now, as I help the U.S. Fund prepare and deploy Global Citizenship Fellows throughout the U.S., I am elated by the fact that together with local communities, we will be doing our part to help children, like that little girl in Haiti, to eat and be safe.