Ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of a humanitarian field worker, or see real heroes in action on the front line?
Over the years, UNICEF has provided a select few lucky individuals a life-changing experiential travel opportunity in the form of a field trip. However, the really exciting news is that you too might be eligible to travel to put children first.
Since its inception in 1946 ― to provide food, clothing and health care to children affected by World War II ― UNICEF has grown into a worldwide organization active in 192 countries helping to keep children safe, healthy and learning.
UNICEF’s work is even more critical today. There are more children on the move now than at any other time in history. An estimated 28 million children are refugees, and UNICEF is responding to deliver lifesaving supplies, fresh water, health care, and education.
So what makes a UNICEF field visit so appealing? Following are the top five reasons why people are embarking on these life-changing experiential travel expeditions:
1. Access – a UNICEF field visit provides access to people, places and expertise you simply would not encounter on a "regular" travel adventure;
2. The humanitarian thing – when you participate in a UNICEF filed visit, you are there as a guest of and an ambassador for the United Nations – it's part foreign relations, part social science, and part humanitarian aid. So for people whose life and/or career path(s) have not provided that opportunity, this gives them a second shot;
3. The people – in addition to meeting a group of inspirational UNICEF field staff, who are the true unsung heroes working on the front line on behalf of the children of the world, its highly likely that you will form incredible friendships with a diverse group of like-minded travel companions from a variety of walks of life;
4. Personal growth – its impossible to go on a UNICEF field visit and come away unaffected, as these travel experiences provide perspective and an enormous opportunity for personal growth along with it; and
5. Purpose – upon the completion of a UNICEF field visit, chances are you will probably return with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
UNICEF USA Midwest Regional Board Member, Hilary Scott, who lives in the affluent Chicago-suburb of Glencoe with her husband, children and dogs, recently visited Tanzania on a UNICEF field visit.
In the weeks before Hilary embarked on her life-changing adventure, people often asked, “Are you going on a safari?” Generally speaking, in the western world, we use the noun safari to suggest a guided expedition to observe or hunt wildlife in their natural habitat. The term originated in the late 19th century from the Swahili word safara, which simply means, to travel, take a voyage, journey or expedition.
In that sense, Hilary declared, “I can think of no better word to describe my travels in Tanzania… a physical voyage, a journey of the heart and a growth expedition.”
So what was the highlight of the trip?
“For me, the highlight of the trip was the people, smiled Hilary. “Especially the UNICEF field staff, but there was so much diversity among my travel companions that I actually learned a lot from everyone.”
“When I arrived at the hotel in Dar es Salaam, I had my doubts,” she confessed. “As there was such a wide range of ages, genders and backgrounds, but in the end, I found commonality with them all.”
This is clearly a tribute to Hilary’s extraordinary character, but also to the UNICEF organizers, who hand-select travelers for the limited number of field visits they offer each year to provide donors with a deeper understanding of their best in class operation, which sees over 90 cents in each dollar go directly to programs that put children first to survive and thrive.
How did the trip affect this suburban Mom?
According to Hilary, the trip taught her how to sit with her own discomfort. She was rather rattled – in the truest disruptive sense of the word – at various points throughout the trip because she saw things that made her uncomfortable. Hilary’s instinct was to do something immediately, but that wasn't the purpose of the visit. Her key takeaway was learning first-hand why it's critical to respond rather than react.
That response will vary depending on the person, their life, and their interests. In Scott’s case, she went home with a renewed sense of energy and purpose. Not only with regards to her broader work on behalf of children, but also the day-to-day "little things" in her household... As a result of her “safari,” Scott and her “tribe” are wasting a lot less water. However, her kids now also know better than to complain about going to school, as in Tanzania it’s a tremendous privilege.
As a parting piece of advice, this courageous and inspirational mom encouraged, “Whether or not it's with UNICEF, get out into the world and see things that challenge your place and perspective and then respond accordingly.”
While the destination is yet to be determined, the cost is $25,000. These funds are critically needed by UNICEF right now and will make a huge impact on the children they serve.
Following are three additional ways that you can support UNICEF’s work:
- DONATE to support UNICEF’s incredible work.
- ADVOCATE by asking Congress to maintain the U.S. Government's annual contribution to UNICEF.
- READ UNICEF USA's 2016 Annual Report to learn more.
What impact can your donation really make?
- $5,000 could provide two-year scholarships for five girls in Guatemala.
- $2,500 could provide a tent to establish a child-friendly space for children living in emergency situations.
- $1,000 could provide over 200 mosquito nets to protect children and families from mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and Zika virus.
- $500 could provide a durable water pump, giving an entire community access to safe, clean water.
- $250 could provide nearly 60 malnourished children with lifesaving nutrition for five days.
- $100 could provide 3 first aid kits, which can treat small wounds and protect a child from deadly infection.
- $50 could provide 15 mosquito nets to defend families from deadly malaria.
The bottom line: If you are interested in learning more about a UNICEF field visit, please contact Elizabeth McCostlin, Managing Director – Midwest Region, UNICEF USA at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 312 222 9141.
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