In December 2006, the “Champions for Children” volunteer program for UNICEF’s Change for Good program on American Airlines was born. Since then, Champions have collected more than $9.5 million to help UNICEF save and improve children’s lives. Every time you collect on flights or at Admirals Clubs, you are making a difference in the life of a child. Below you can read about the tangible impact the notes and coins you have collected are making in the lives of children around the world.
Furthering the Fight against HIV and AIDS in Latin America
Champions for Children have collected over $2.94 million to support UNICEF’s critical fight against HIV and AIDS globally. UNICEF is working to achieve an AIDS-free generation by:
• Ensuring the health of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV
• Making sure that children have access to antiretroviral therapy
• Focusing on prevention and treatment during adolescence, so that children remain AIDS-free in the second decade of life
• Ensuring social protection and child protection, care and support through the first two decades of life
Globally, an estimated 35.3 million people were living with HIV in 2012; including 2.1 million adolescents (10-19 years). There has been more progress made in tackling new HIV infections among children during the past three years than over the entire previous decade: new HIV infections among children under the age of 15 went down by 35% globally between 2009 and 2012. Despite these promising signs, reductions in new HIV infections among adolescents have been modest, and increasing the availability of treatment for children living with HIV is still too slow: children under 15 are only half as likely as adults to receive the treatment they need. The failure to expand access to early infant diagnosis is an important reason explaining why HIV treatment coverage remains much lower for children than for adults.
With the funds collected by Champions, UNICEF is expanding transmission-prevention services for pregnant women who often pass the virus onto their newborns. UNICEF and partners also provide pediatric treatment to support children orphaned or impoverished by HIV through the provision of social and health programs, and work to protect marginalized adolescents who are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus. UNICEF also strives to protect adolescents’ rights to access treatment and care, to remove any stigmas associated with HIV and AIDS in their communities, and to strengthen the participation of youth in infection-prevention programs.
Annual Voting on a Champion-Selected UNICEF Project
Over the past several years, Champions for Children have voted on a UNICEF project to support with a portion of funds collected each year. Each of these projects was visited by a select group of Champions to see first-hand the impact Change for Good collections are having in the lives of children. Projects include:
- Clean water, sanitation and hygiene resources for children in rural Colombia;
- Safe living environments for children and adolescents in Brazil;
- Child Protection Programs in the Dominican Republic;
- Emergency Relief and Recovery Programs in Chile;
- Child Development Programs in Belize; and
- Child Survival and Development Programs in Honduras.
Helping Save Children's Lives through General Fund Contributions
Champions for Children have raised over $1.6 million to support the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s General Fund. Contributions to the General Fund are unrestricted donations not designated to a specific emergency, program, or country. Instead, UNICEF allocates monies from this fund forrapid, effective intervention when and where children need it most in any of the 150+ countries in which UNICEF works, helping save and improve the maximum number of young lives.
By providing unrestricted donations, Champions for Children are empowering UNICEF to fight “silent emergencies”—the deadly effects of preventable disease and malnutrition that do not make headlines but that left unchecked can become much larger threats to children’s well-being across entire regions. These contributions also help UNICEF continue to manage country-led health, education, and child protection programs that many governments are reluctant to pursue without UNICEF’s expert guidance to ensure that children are and remain a national priority.
The General Fund has helped UNICEF and its partners make great strides in the global fight for child survival and development, including the September 2013 announcement that the number of children under age five dying from preventable causes dropped from 19,000 to 18,000 per day. While any child dying of a preventable cause is unacceptable, little by little, progress is being made.
Your support of the General Fund makes stories like Kalima Munena’s possible. Kalima is a man on a mission. Once a month, he rides his bicycle 117 kilometres to reach remote villages near Kitenge, in Eastern Congo’s Katanga province. The difficult journey takes Kalima two days, amid scorching heat, bad roads and the occasional snake encounter. But Kalima’s assignment is vital: he delivers life-saving vaccines to children living in isolated communities---children who would otherwise not be reached.
“It’s important to me,” says Kalima looking at the mothers gathered at the health centre. “It makes me happy to see these mothers who have brought their children here today. You know, some have had to walk very long distances to reach our health center, so I need to be here for them and make sure their children get vaccinated.”
Thank you, Champions for Children for providing unrestricted funds to help UNICEF provide low-cost high-impact interventions which will help us reach a day when ZERO children die of preventable causes.
Stories from the Field
Here is one example of the type of lifesaving work that Champions’ funds have supported. Maria Isabel, a Bolivian young mother of a three-year-old boy, tested positive for HIV a few years ago.
“I summoned up the courage to go to a medical center where I took the Elisa [HIV] test. When I heard the result I was horrified, I could not stop crying.” It was explained to Maria Isabel how to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
“I saw that my son was growing without showing signs of the disease, and then I decided that I should strive to live, especially for my child. I returned to La Paz to be with my family and to start treatment. When my son was a year and a half we did the Elisa test and he was HIV negative. This immense joy motivated me to give advice on the prevention of vertical transmission, and child nutrition for pregnant women based on my experience. I explained that life is not over just because you know that you are HIV-positive.”
Thanks to UNICEF, Maria Isabel can give advice to many pregnant women on the importance of taking the HIV test as part of the regular prenatal care package.
Another story that gives hope is the one of Irina, a healthy one-year-old in Balti, Moldova, because her mother received antiretroviral treatment. Tamara, age 23 years, contracted HIV when she was a teenager. She faced stigma and discrimination. “I felt depressed and had the feeling that nobody cared,” Tamara recalled.
But Tamara’s life changed for the better. At a health facility for young people, supported by UNICEF, she found safety, acceptance and medical care for herself and her children, as well as counseling and peer support. Tamara has been living with HIV for many years but she is healthy and her children are both HIV-negative.
In addition to helping mothers like Maria Isabel and Tamara, another example of how Champions’ collections are helping UNICEF combat HIV/AIDS is the Health and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)/AIDS Prevention in Schools program in Brazil. The main type of activities supported through this program included: training professionals in health, education and strategies for social mobilization and prevention of STDs, HIV and AIDS; multiplying knowledge among adolescents on sexuality and prevention of STDs/HIV and AIDS in low-income communities; and the creation and dissemination of a comprehensive guide on reproductive education among young people, developed in partnership with UNESCO.
Another type of initiative of Champions’ donations have supported is the project on STDs/AIDS prevention with street children in Brazil. The project supported and protected more than 4,000 street children in four Brazilian cities (Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) through the improvement of their health and social conditions.
These are just a few of the critical projects that have been made possible because of the support of Champions for Children.