How UNICEF Has Impacted My Life

November 20, 2019

My time as an intern at UNICEF may have been short but has affected my life in such positive ways.

My first introduction to UNICEF was years ago in my own childhood. My teacher introduced us to the iconic the Trick or Treat for UNICEF Program and taught us that we could help children that were at risk in other parts of the world. I was so excited to walk around in my Halloween costume with the iconic orange Trick or Treat collection box.

As the years passed, I would occasionally hear about the work UNICEF was doing around the world.

When the opportunity presented for me to intern at UNICEF, I instantly jumped at it. What a full circle it would be to again work with UNICEF.

As I started my tenure and learned more about the organization, the more I fell in with the message. “All children have the right to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of the better world.” Everything this organization does is to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children in the world. The work we do is so impactful and important. From child protection and survival to emergency services to educational opportunities, UNICEF has been working to not only save children’s lives but to also give them opportunities to thrive as adults

 The first program I worked with when I started was the Trick or Treat program, something I was coincidentally involved with in my own childhood. Trick or Treat started many years ago in 1950 when a group of kids went door to door collecting funds for UNICEF. They collected $17. Since then, children have raised over $175 million to help the world’s most vulnerable children by trick or treating with the iconic orange donation box on Halloween. I had the opportunity to reach out to schools in the Houston Area and educated them about UNICEF’s annual fundraiser and encouraged them to order donation boxes. We also held a booth at the Health Museum during their World Food Day presentation. It was gratifying to see how many people recognized UNICEF and to also educate people that were not familiar about the organization.

I had the great pleasure of being a part of luncheon for one of UNICEF’s current programs, Project Lion. Project Lion is a 3-year initiative started in India seeking to improve the lives of 200,000 children in 9 states. 4 key areas that the project focuses on is enforcing standards of care, strengthening the child protection workforce, providing services for vulnerable children, and modeling alternatives. Key members of the Houston community gathered and raised $50,000 to be put towards the project. 

An event dear to my heart is Houston’s World Children’s Day Celebrations on November 20th. Not only was it World Children’s Day, but it was also the 30th anniversary of the Convention of Children’s Rights, an international agreement on childhood. People from all different backgrounds came together to celebrate and highlight the importance of putting children first, always. Mayor Sylvester Turner is the first Mayor in the United States to sign the Global Child Friendly Cities Initiative Manifesto, joining over 130 mayors from around the world who seek to build sustainable child friendly cities for today and into the future! 100 elementary school kids were able to participate in a soccer clinic organized by former Houston dynamo star, Mike Chabala. Interacting with the kids and seeing their excitement for UNICEF was incredible to be a part of. Even at such a young age, they are working towards being global citizens and getting involved in making the world a better place. 

As my time at UNICEF comes to an end, I am immensely grateful for this experience. UNICEF has educated me on so many world issues and shown me how I can do my part to improve the world. Through this program, I was able to meet such a diverse group of people who were passionate on being the voice of children all over the world. I am excited to continue to be involved in this organization as a volunteer through the the UNICEF UNITE Program. If you are excited to join the Houston UNITE team, please sign up at unicefusa.org/unite or contact the Houston Community Engagement Associate, Olivera Jankovska at ojankovska@unicefusa.org