Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone and the author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, has a remarkable story to tell. With incredible honesty and authenticity, he reveals the details of his experience as a child soldier during the civil unrest in Sierra Leone. As a child he was vulnerable to the persuasiveness of the armies, but re-entering civil society was a challenge. I invite you to hear Ishmael Beah’s powerful message on May 10 at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco.
In December, I had one of most rewarding experiences of my tenure at the U.S. Fund when a friend invited me to speak to her daughter Riley’s third grade class at Pine Bush Elementary School in Guilderland, NY. Riley’s teacher, Ms. Germano, and her fellow third grade teachers have been raising funds for Trick or Treat for UNICEF for the past 8 years. This year the classes raised $1,700 to support UNICEF’s work.
Extreme hunger is a horrific feeling. Millions are facing this predicament due to the current food crisis and severe droughts in the Sahel. As a current member of the UNICEF Campus Initiative Alumni Association, I am excited to support UNICEF and the children of Sahel through the Live Below the Line campaign. I invite you to join me on this campaign to live on a $1.50/day for food from May 7-11 and raise funds for UNICEF’s lifesaving work in the Sahel.
Malaria is the single most important cause of illness in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Out of the country’s population of 72 million – nearly all are at risk of contracting the disease. Malaria here is responsible for nearly 200,000 deaths every year – the equivalent of 366 plane (747) crashes. You would think that providing this simple, cost-effective and lifesaving solution over the beds of those who need it most would be pretty straightforward. Yet, given the complex terrain of areas where the transmission of malaria is highest, the distribution of millions of needed bednets is one of the most challenging tasks faced by UNICEF as well as other humanitarian organizations working on the ground to stop this deadly disease. Back in 2009, UNICEF helped organize a historic campaign where 5.5 million nets were distributed at a cost of about US $32 million to protect at least 11 million people living in DRC’s provinces of Orientale and Maniema. These nets were transported by barge, bicycle, canoe, trucks and sheer human effort. This year, we’re at it again with another extraordinary series of campaigns! Our goal for 2012 is to distribute 13.7 million mosquito nets in four provinces across the country.
Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending a screening of the documentary Not My Life, at American University in Washington D.C. The screening was coordinated by the End Trafficking team at UNICEF, our Global Citizenship Fellow Aarti Singh, and American University’s UNICEF Campus Initiative. The End Trafficking project is a U.S. Fund for UNICEF initiative that raises awareness about human trafficking and mobilizes communities to take meaningful action to help protect children.
Children in Brazil are learning how to advocate for their rights. Through the Urban Platform Program, young people are being trained in the skills of communications, advocacy, community organizing, and leadership. This intensive work takes place in Rio and São Paolo’s favelas, which are some of the most notorious urban slums in the world. We are grateful to have The Prudential Foundation as a partner supporting the Urban Platform Program, and when they visited Rio de Janeiro with me they were awed at these young people who were making their voices heard.