UNICEF and American Airlines, providing a future for kids in Honduras

At first glance, Ana Bessy Zelaya looks like a typical teenager. She wears blue jeans and sneakers, and her hair is tied back with a barrette. She's quiet and occasionally flashes a quick, shy smile. But her eyes carry a weariness that exceeds her 18 years.

Ana is the single mother of two young boys, Daniel, age five, and baby Julio. She supports the boys by selling clothes in a clamorous market in Honduras''' capital city, Tegucigalpa. But the money is modest. And Ana used to worry how she would provide her sons with basic things: food, medicine, school. "Now," she says. "I don't worry."

Thanks to an inventive, UNICEF-supported program, Ana's oldest son, Daniel, gets food, health care, and an education

Vote today for the People's Choice Award Winner

Pier 1 Greeting Card Contest

The annual Pier 1 greeting card contest, in which a child's winning design is turned into an official UNICEF greeting card, sold exclusively at Pier 1 Imports stores across the country during the 2009 holiday season, ended on March 6th. The entries poured in, and we're happy to announce that this year there'll be a "People's Choice Award"!

Visitors to the Pier 1 website can vote on their favorite design from April 1st through the 15th. The "People's Choice" winner will receive $500 worth of art supplies.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of this, as well as all UNICEF cards sold at Pier 1, go to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to help in its mission to decrease the number of preventable childhood deaths from 25,000 each day to zero.

Vote today, and good luck to all of those who entered!

World Water Week is over, but the Tap Project lives on!

From March 22 to 28, thousands of volunteers, restaurants, agency, government and corporate partners joined together to support UNICEF's Tap Project. While World Water Week may have officially come to a close, there is still much you can do to help UNICEF put an end to the preventable deaths of children due to a lack of clean water!

The Tap Project iPhone application.

UNICEF's comfort food

I'm a firm believer in comfort food. It does wonders for the soul and imparts a sense of contentment. My favorite comfort foods are definitely milk and cookies. For many of us these are the quintessential pair of comfort foods, the items sure to cure whatever ails us. For others, these items are beyond comfort and convenience"they're a means of survival.

How a UNICEF well changed one girl's life

Twelve-year-old Ajimoh Yaya used to wake up at 4 A.M. each morning, walk more than a mile in the dark to the Abata River, and trudge home with buckets-full of water for her family's cooking, drinking and bathing. The river was the only water source for Ajimoh's village, Araromi Oke, in Ekiti State, Nigeria. In the dry season"when the river was low and prone to contamination"cholera, diarrhea and other waterborne illnesses raged through the community.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2007-0316/Christine Nesbitt
Ajimoh Yaya, 12, washes her younger brother before school at their home in Araromi Oke Village in the southwestern state of Ekiti, Nigera.

The river water didn't just affect the villagers' health; the difficulty of fetching water impacted the lives of everyone, especially children. Even waking up at 4 A.M., Ajimoh's arduous chores meant she was often late for school. And because there was so little water for all the household needs, it was difficult for Ajimoh and her siblings to bathe properly. "I had rashes all over my skin," Ajimoh recalled.

A chef making an impact

My name is Georges Perrier and I believe in zero. That is why I joined UNICEF in doing whatever it takes to save a child's life. During World Water Week, I joined thousands of restaurants to help UNICEF save lives by doing something incredibly simple " I invited my patrons at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free. With just $1, I learned that UNICEF can provide safe drinking water to a child for 40 days. I could only imagine how many children's lives that my restaurant alone would save as a Tap Project participating restaurant, not to mention the thousands of other establishments across the country. I am committed to raising at least $500 this week and I know that my restaurant is making a huge impact on the lives of children in need.

© Perrier
Georges Perrier, Philadelphia Tap Project Chef Ambassador

I have always been committed to social responsibility. I was honored to represent the Philadelphia community and join together with UNICEF which has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. These children need our help now. If I can save even one child's life through participating in the Tap Project, then I know that my life will be that much richer. I encouraged all of my fellow restaurateurs to do their part and to participate in this lifesaving campaign, and I am proud to see that not only has the Philadelphia restaurant community answered my call, but that restaurants all around the country have come together to support UNICEF's Tap Project. The Tap Project, for me, gave Le Bec Fin a chance to be part of a movement " a local campaign that has a global impact and helps save children's lives.

As World Water Week winds down, my fellow restaurateurs should know that through their efforts to implement the Tap Project, they have played an important role in helping to save children's lives. I am proud to be part of this lifesaving campaign, and I am committed to helping UNICEF put an end to the preventable deaths of children due to a lack of clean water.

Moms unite to fight tetanus

Heather Maddan, editor of lilsugar.com, attended a briefing organized by Pampers, UNICEF's partner in the "One Pack = One Vaccine" campaign, at Procter & Gamble's headquarters in July 2008. While at the briefing, Heather was given the opportunity to meet with Pampers executives and U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO, Caryl Stern, to discover what the "One Pack = One Vaccine" campaign was all about.

Believe in Zero

Leading advertising agencies lend support to UNICEF

A few days ago, while catching up with an old colleague in Washington, DC, I was told, "The Tap Project is blowing up! I see it everywhere!" I have to admit that this evoked a great sense of pride in knowing that I have the privilege to be part of something that is not only creating a huge amount of buzz and public awareness, but that this awareness is also generating much needed funds that will literally save children's lives. I was then asked something that caught me off guard. "How much of the funds raised during World Water Week have to be used to pay the advertising agencies that have created campaigns for the Tap Project?" I paused and smiled to myself before responding, "All of our ad agencies are supporting the Tap Project pro bono."

Tap Project Agencies at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Thinking of those who die in search of water

Since my friend left for Niger in late January, I haven't exactly been worried about her safety, despite an escalation of violence by a local rebel group and reported kidnappings on the border of Niger and Mali. Mostly, I've been concerned about her health. As I've mentioned before, Niger remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and water"even dirty, bacteria-laden, brackish water"is scarce. However, I was less distressed over her going thirsty, than I was of her developing a water-borne illness of the cholera kind I have been reading and writing about lately. Therefore, when my friend traveled to the bush"the Azawak region of Niger, where her organization would survey a water borehole built last year"and I didn't hear from her for three weeks, my fears began to creep over me. Not knowing her Skype digits, I sent a Facebook email"a smoke signal from 6,000 miles away.

© UNICEF/NYHQ1993-1923/Giacomo Pirozzi
In Niger, women (some with babies strapped to their backs) use buckets held with ropes to fetch water from a well covered with logs, near the village of Melam.

In the weeks she was gone, a lot happened at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF"including the release of the 2009 State of the World's Children report and the launch of some new initiatives. And now it is World Water Week, and the U.S. Fund's Tap Project is in full swing. For those of you who don't know, the Tap Project is a campaign encourages patrons of participating restaurants to donate $1 for the tap water they normally drink for free. One child can drink clean water for 40 days on that dollar bill"a fact I did not know before I came to the U.S. Fund. This statistic, in particular, has prompted me to action on behalf of the Tap Project.