Last week, I had the privilege of visiting one of the most beautiful countries on earth, Rwanda. I was there with delegates from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s longstanding partner, Zonta International—a global organization working to advance the status of women worldwide. Zonta has chosen to invest in the futures of women and children in Rwanda by supporting UNICEF’s work to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV and prevent gender-based violence. Together, Zonta International, UNICEF and its many partners are working toward—and are on track to reaching—a generation in Rwanda born free from HIV by 2015.
We are in the Chiaquelane camp near Chokwe, the city in Mozambique that was devastated by the flooding of the Limpopo River. Most of the city’s 70,000 residents escaped with whatever they could grab, as violent waters engulfed their homes.
Arsenia is 15 years old, and the day the waters came, Arsenia fled her home with three aunts and 12 cousins, most of them under the age of ten.
With no tent for shelter, Arsenia and her family spend long days at Chiaquelane exposed to the elements, come hellish heat or rain. But things are getting better at the camp. Even morning classes have started, a relief for Arsenia, who says she misses school and her schoolbooks.
Last weekend I thought of a sentiment that sums up Valentine’s Day perfectly for me: “Love grows with sharing.” As you think about getting the perfect gift for your Valentine, what better way to share your love than to give a UNICEF Inspired Gift. Inspired Gifts are real items like therapeutic milk, books or soccer balls, that go to help children around the world. Once you’ve selected your Inspired Gift, you can choose an eCard or a printable card to announce the gift made in honor of your Valentine and how it will be shared to help kids around the world.
Actor and UNICEF Ambassador Ewan McGregor was on the Ellen show last Friday, talking not only about his latest movie, but also about UNICEF. He specifically urged viewers to donate to help the children of Syria, who are not only dealing with the violence in their country, but are now facing a bitterly cold winter.
As you may know from our advocacy alert, the United States has yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. did, however, ratify two optional protocols, which help ensure that children never serve as soldiers, and which prohibit child prostitution, child pornography and the sale of children. In January, the United States presented a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child on its implementation of both protocols. The Committee noted that the U.S. has made significant progress since ratifying the treaties a decade ago, but it also highlighted some areas where the U.S. Government might make improvements.
Many of us see Jamaica as an island paradise, the birthplace of Reggae music, and home to world class athletes. But Jamaica is not perfect: The country is home to one of the world’s greatest wealth disparities and has one of the highest homicide rates. These harsh realities create a difficult environment for children. I recently had the privilege of hearing UNICEF Jamaica Representative Robert Fuderich speak about UNICEF’s programs in Jamaica, and attending this event further deepened my appreciation for UNICEF’s work.