Jenna Bush Hager, longtime UNICEF supporter and a correspondent for NBC’s Today show, reported last week on a story that may have been news for some morning audiences but is a core concern for us at the U.S. Fund. The segment was shot in Guatemala, the country with the highest rates of malnutrition in Latin America.
Bush told the story of Maria Claudia Sentizo, an officer from UNICEF Guatemala, and of her “daily rescue mission” to bring UNICEF-supplied micronutrient supplements to children who have been the hardest hit victims of rising food prices and food scarcity.
This child nutrition crisis is more than a news story for Bush, who began her job with the Today show in September 2009. The former first daughter has been involved with children’s issues in Latin America since 2007, when she interned for UNICEF. She is currently chairing UNICEF’s Next Generation, a group of young professionals committed to UNICEF’s mission.
Malnutrition is a major contributor to child mortality. In less critical cases, it can still cause arrested cognitive development and poor academic performance. In Guatemala, it can be seen as perpetuating a cycle of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment.
But it’s impact on children is more immediately visible. “The first thing they lose is their smile,” says Sentizo.
With your help, UNICEF can restore smiles, along with critical vitamins and minerals. Sprinkles – doing whatever it takes.
This blog post has been written by Caroline Johnston Polisi, a member of UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee.
UNICEF’s Next Generation–a new U.S. Fund for UNICEF volunteer group dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children around the world–made our public debut last Thursday night with the launch of our first initiative, Project Sprinkles: Combating Malnutrition in Guatemala. The committee is comprised of 30 young adults from diverse backgrounds, of which I am one, and is led by Jenna Bush Hager, a longtime UNICEF supporter and Young Leadership Ambassador & Next Generation Chair.
The Gates, a venue in NYC, was abuzz with other Next Generation members, U.S. Fund for UNICEF staff–including U.S. Fund for UNICEF President & CEO, Caryl Stern–and other like-minded young professionals, all committed to doing whatever it takes to save the lives of children. Guests enjoyed Crumbs Cupcakes (aptly decorated with sprinkles), sipped Sprinkle Spritzers, danced to DJ Josh Madden’s beats, and bid on raffle prizes for gift certificates to restaurants including the Waverly Inn and Kingswood, among others. Guests could also purchase a variety of UNICEF’s Inspired Gifts, like the prominently displayed School-in-a-Box kit, which includes the tools to provide a temporary school for over 40 children in times of emergency.
UNICEF’s Next Generation Steering Committee member Megan Ferguson and chair Jenna Bush Hager call out raffle numbers. The event helped raise around $45,000.
The vibe was upbeat and excited as Jenna took the microphone around 9:00 p.m. to welcome guests and to update them on our new group’s plans, which begin with a focus on the children of Latin America. During our initial committee meetings, UNICEF’s Guatemala representative briefed us about rising levels of malnutrition among Guatemala’s children, and we decided to take immediate action, committing to raise $175,000 for Project Sprinkles. Resembling a small packet of sugar, one sachet of “Sprinkles” poured over one meal a day provides the perfect amount of daily nutrients to a child, regardless of the quantity or quality of the food the child eats.
January 19, 2008 — Jenna Bush, former UNICEF intern and author of Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, based on her work with UNICEF, is visiting UNICEF programs in Peru and blogging from the field. This is her third entry.
Today started early; at six in the morning we were up preparing for a visit to the provinces of Chincha and Pisco, two areas that faced serious damage after an earthquake affected the region on August 15th. Although the sun had just risen above the grey water of the Pacific, our two-hour drive South to Chincha was filled with energy and anticipation.
January 18, 2008 — Jenna Bush, former UNICEF intern and author of Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, based on her work with UNICEF, is visiting UNICEF programs in Peru and blogging from the field. This is her second entry.
We woke to the sun breaking through the clouds of the Andes and flew to Lima for a day visiting urban programs. As we drove through the crowded city, passing large buses and motor taxis, mothers and children I was struck by the stark difference between the isolated, slow life in the communities outside of Cusco and the congested city life.
January 16, 2008 — Jenna Bush is visiting UNICEF programs in Peru and blogging from the field. This is her first entry.
The low clouds hung over the mountains as we drove from the center of Cusco up the rolling hills to the rural village of Huancarcani. The two and a half-hour drive through winding cliffs to the elevated community which sits at 38,000 feet keeps the villagers isolated from the city life below. The village’s economy is the fifth poorest of the 1,831 municipalities in Peru. We have come for a full day in the village: first a meeting with local political figures, then to tour an innovative health center, and finally a visit to a children’s defense center.
October 5, 2007 — Jenna Bush, daughter of President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush, interned with UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean from September 2006 through May 2007. Based on her experience, she wrote Ana’s Story, a personal, narrative nonfiction account of a girl who struggles to break free from a vicious cycle of abuse, poverty and illness.