In her moving book, I Believe in ZERO, President and CEO of the UNICEF USA Caryl M. Stern offers memorable stories from her travels around the world, bringing back powerful and sometimes counter-intuitive lessons about life.
"The book reflects the essence of UNICEF's mission and the fact that we are working every day to cut the number of preventable child deaths to zero," says Stern. "I hope that by telling the stories of the remarkable mothers and children I've met in my travels, I can inspire others to support this important work."
Each of the stories in I Believe in ZERO focuses on a particular locale—Bangladesh, Mozambique, earthquake-ravaged Haiti, the Brazilian Amazon—and weaves together fascinating material on the country and its history, accounts of recent humanitarian crises and encounters with people she meets on the ground.
Stern tells of mothers coming together to make change, of local communities with valuable perspectives of their own, and of children who continue to sustain their dreams and hopes even in the most dire situations. Throughout, Stern traces her emerging global consciousness and describes how these stories can positively impact our own children.
What people are saying
"Caryl Stern offers a poignant and personal account from the front lines of her work to protect the most vulnerable children in the world today. Through her eyes, we are powerfully re-awakened to the common hopes and aspirations that all parents share for their children—and to the injustice that denies hope to far too many of the world's most marginalized families. She does so with empathy, humility and a sense of profound optimism that leaves the reader believing—like her—in the equity platform of UNICEF and the audacious goal of ZERO hunger, poverty and disease. Hers is a powerful and inspirational call-to-action for anyone who cares about the future we leave our children—which is to say, all of us."
— Timothy P. Shriver, PhD; Chairman and CEO, Special Olympics Inc.
"Caryl Stern is an inspiration for anyone contemplating a life of service. I have had the good fortune of knowing Caryl since she arrived at the UNICEF USA in 2006, like a fireball of energy, with a passionate commitment not only to making a difference in the lives of the world's most vulnerable women and children—but with a desire to listen and learn from them directly. Throughout her travels, whether to war zones, the sites of humanitarian or natural disasters, or to distant places where UNICEF has been working away for the long haul, she has always taken the time to talk to children, families and communities, to understand their lives and the issues they face, and their hopes and dreams. Caryl has artfully distilled their extraordinary stories along with her own unique experiences into her wonderful new book, I Believe in ZERO: Learning From The World's Children—a book which should be mandatory reading for anyone interested in making sure that every child has the chance to grow, thrive and reach their potential—and indeed, in changing the world!"
— Lucy Liu, UNICEF Ambassador
"As global citizens, it's our responsibility to band together and create change for our world's children. As a mother of four, I'm always amazed at the work Caryl Stern and UNICEF do on a daily basis to make sure kids have the basic necessities like clean water, food to eat and medicine for preventable illnesses. This book is not only heartwarming but inspirational. My hope is that you will read it and join in UNICEF's 'I Believe in ZERO' campaign. Our children need us."
— Heidi Klum, UNICEF Supporter
"UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other organization on the planet. These are children who lack things we take for granted everyday: Water, Food, Medicine, and Vaccinations. Over 18,000 of these children die needlessly every day because they lack one or more of these basic human needs and UNICEF will not stop until that number is ZERO. Under the guidance of Caryl Stern, I have seen that daily number of needless deaths drop from 26,000 to 18,000…which is still a huge and unacceptable number…but certainly a significant move in the right direction. Caryl…and all of the wonderful people at UNICEF…are amongst the bravest warriors we have in this battle to save the world's most vulnerable children. They don't care about how dangerous or unstable a country might be that they need to enter, or what the gender, political affiliation, or religion is of a child. All Caryl and UNICEF care about is accessing children who need their help. I believe in ZERO and anyone who spends a few minutes with Caryl Stern will believe in ZERO too."
— Vern Yip, UNICEF Ambassador
"Traveling with UNICEF changed my life, and like Caryl Stern, the lessons I've learned from the world's children have filled me with awe and wonder. In her new book, Caryl brings those lessons home for us all, with a mother's eye, and a humanitarian's heart."
— Alyssa Milano, UNICEF Ambassador
"Caryl Stern is one of the world's great mothers. While traveling with Caryl on a UNICEF field visit, I saw firsthand the incredible love she has for ALL of the world's children. Her stories force us to realize that every child, not just our own, deserves the right to live a healthy, happy life."
— Tyson Chandler, NBA All-Star & UNICEF Supporter
"Caryl understands how important children are. Through this book she takes us to some of her travels and experiences with UNICEF and shows her passion for protecting the world's most vulnerable children, helping us understand the need of all of us working towards the day when zero children die from preventable causes."
— Pau Gasol – NBA All-Star/UNICEF Ambassador
"I Believe in ZERO" should be on every classroom shelf, and on every mom's kitchen table. I fell in love with UNICEF and its mission the day I started interning for the organization in 2006. Recently, having my own baby has solidified even more the grave importance of UNICEF’s work and their commitment to ZERO. My daughter Mila has helped me to better understand the desires and pain of the mothers I met through my travels with UNICEF. I have learned so much from them...they taught me that ALL mothers want similar things: the chance for their kids to live healthy, happy, productive lives. Caryl is one such mother, to her own children and to the children of the world. I Believe in ZERO does exactly what she set out to do: show the world that through her own personal experiences with UNICEF she has learned, as I have, that every child and mother can be a true inspiration.”
— Jenna Bush Hager, Founding Chair, UNICEF's Next Generation
Choose I Believe in ZERO as your next book club selection and download the free Adult Discussion Guide to inform your conversation. The guide includes questions for discussion and reflection, facts and statistics about child survival, an interview with the author and ways to support UNICEF’s work.
Encourage your local high school to assign I Believe in ZERO or select chapters from the book, as a student reading. The free accompanying Teacher’s Guide provides four lessons that bring readings from the book into the curriculum in meaningful ways. The guide also includes ways that students can take action in support of child rights and alignment to National Content and Common Core State Standards.
About the author
Caryl's M. Stern has spent more than 30 years in the non-profit sector as a child advocate and civil rights activist. Since May 2007, she's served as President and CEO of the UNICEF USA, leading the day-to-day work of the organization's National Office and five Regional Offices. Prior to this and other roles at the U.S. Fund, Stern served as the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Associate National Director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). She lives with her family in New York. Read the full bio.