All Articles Tagged "UNICEF"

The Restaveks: Haiti’s Modern Day Child Slaves

August 19th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This



Slavery in Haiti was officially abolished in 1803 during the Haitian Revolution but because of the country’s meager economic conditions, modern-day domestic slavery still reigns in the Caribbean country, and those affected by it are called restaveks. A Creole word that loosely means “to stay with,” restavek  is used to identify children whose parents arrange for them to live with rich members of society and do menial household chores. Refinery 29 reports tha  their alleged financial payment is education and a chance to live in a better environment than the one they’re born into. But unfortunately, many restaveks never make it to school and are abused by their new guardians.

haiti 2“With high birth rates in Haiti and 80% of the population living in poverty, rural mothers agree to send their children to host families to escape the economic burden of raising them. Although host families typically agree to send the restavek child to school, they often don’t follow through with that promise, according to the Restavek Freedom Foundation. That’s partly because there are so many time-consuming chores to be done throughout the day, due to a lack of running water, no refrigeration, and other hardships even for wealthy urban families,” Business Insider revealed in their 2014 piece, “Why Haiti Is One Of The Worst Countries For Child Slavery.”

To gain more insight on the problematic issue, photographer Vlad Sokhin documented the daily lives of restaveks and noted that, “With few exceptions, restavek children become slaves, working in the homes of their ‘masters’ from early morning until night. They fetch water [every] day, cook, wash clothes, clean yards, and do all other household chores. They are not allowed to sleep on a bed, eat at the table with the rest of the host family, or play with other children.”

In UNICEF’s 2015 Annual Report on Haiti it was learned that approximately 407,000 children in Haiti are restaveks and 207,000 children under the age of 15 perform acts of labor deemed deplorable.

haiti 3Despite the known and unknown inhumane treatment of many Haitian children, those who uphold the restavek system claim that if it wasn’t in place, these children would die if they remained with their families. One woman told Business Insider that her restavek child goes to school and her children even claim the girl as their own sibling, adding she “behaves like a mother” to her restavek.

To get an in-depth look at the image of the childhood restaveks of Haiti, visit Refinery 29.

UNICEF’S Kid Power Month To Take Place In New York

January 8th, 2016 - By Kweli Wright
Share to Twitter Email This



The U.S. Fund for UNICEF announced the launch of the 2016 UNICEF Kid Power school program, expanding to 13 cities across the country and empowering more than 70,000 elementary school children to get active and save lives. More than 3,200 teams of third through fifth-graders in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Phoenix, Portland (Maine), Sacramento, San Francisco/Oakland and Washington D.C. will join the UNICEF Kid Power Team beginning in early 2016 and help save the lives of severely malnourished children around the world.

 Each city will kick-off its own 30-day “UNICEF Kid Power Month” challenge for participating teams of students who will do their part to make the world a healthier place. While taking steps to end global malnutrition, students will learn about the importance of physical activity and becoming global citizens.

 UNICEF Kid Power is a program of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and is made possible through the generous support of Presenting Sponsors Star Wars: Force for Change and Target, as well as local supporters, parents and fans. Thanks to this funding, participating students from high-need schools will have the opportunity to take part in the UNICEF Kid Power school program, a teacher-led classroom experience that leverages easy-to-use technology and standards-based curriculum to promote fitness and global citizenship. The technology includes UNICEF Kid Power Bands for students and classroom tablets for syncing and tracking progress. The curriculum includes lessons, engagement opportunities and quizzes on malnutrition and global citizenship to keep kids inspired and engaged. Students will be cheered on by their parents, communities, city officials and local sports teams to inspire them to stay active during Kid Power Month and beyond.

 By playing, running, jumping and more with the UNICEF Kid Power Band – the world’s first Wearable-for-Good™ – kids earn Kid Power Points. Points unlock funding from Kid Power sponsors and supporters, and funding is used by UNICEF to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move, the more points they earn and the more lives they save.

UNICEF Kid Power

 “When UNICEF Kid Power is introduced in classrooms from coast to coast, tens of thousands of students will improve their lives and help save the lives of their peers around the world, creating a powerful kids-helping-kids movement,” said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl M. Stern. “Every step they take will bring us one step closer to ending global malnutrition and ensuring that every child has a strong and healthy future ahead of them.”

 The 2016 nationwide expansion of the UNICEF Kid Power school program follows activations during the 2014/2015 school year in Boston, Dallas, New York and Sacramento. An independent evaluation of Sacramento schools found that students engaged in Kid Power were 55 percent more active than their peers. A second independent evaluation of schools in Boston, Dallas and New York produced similar results, and showed a 30 percent increase in the number of days in which students met their daily requirements for physical activity*.Not only were kids participating in UNICEF Kid Power significantly more active than their peers, but this motivated group earned enough Kid Power points to unlock 188,850 therapeutic food packets, enough to save the lives of 1,259 children.

 Globally, one in four children is malnourished – about 159 million children worldwide – while one in four children in the United States is inactive. Malnutrition is attributable to nearly half of all deaths of children under age five, and 16 million children suffer from the most life-threatening form of malnutrition – severe acute malnutrition – which can require specialized care with therapeutic food packets. The therapeutic food packets unlocked by UNICEF Kid Power contain a specially-designed protein and vitamin-rich peanut paste, which allows children who are severely malnourished to be treated in their communities and has the potential to transform the lives of millions of malnourished children around the world.

UNICEF Kid Power 1

 The growth in the Kid Power school program comes on the heels of the national retail launch of UNICEF Kid Power Bands in November 2015, allowing families everywhere to join the UNICEF Kid Power Team by purchasing a Kid Power Band, available at and in select Target stores, and downloading the free companion App.** Two Star Wars: Force for Change Bands are also available in “light side” white and “dark side” black. Kids and families everywhere can use the UNICEF Kid Power Band to get active, go on missions to learn about new cultures and earn points that help save lives.

The UNICEF Kid Power school programs and Kid Power Month will take place in: 

•       San Francisco/OaklandJanuary 18–February 12

•       PhoenixFebruary 16–March 11

•       DallasFebruary 16–March 11

•       IndianapolisFebruary 22–March 18

•       Los AngelesFebruary 22–March 18

•       SacramentoFebruary 22–March 18

•       Minneapolis/St. PaulFebruary 22–March 18

•       AtlantaFebruary 29–March 25

•       ChicagoFebruary 29–March 25

•       Washington D.C.  – February 29–March 25

•       BostonMarch 7–April 1

•       New YorkMarch 7–April 1

•       Portland (Maine) – March 7–April 1


For more information, visit the UNICEF Kid Power Schools site or

East Africa Famine: Media Ignores Deadly Crisis to Focus on Politics

August 3rd, 2011 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

Famine in SomaliaBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Did you know that 800,000 children are in danger of dying of starvation in the coming weeks if aid is not delivered to the Horn of Africa immediately? If you didn’t, it’s not your fault. The famine destroying the lives of east Africans is just now making it into the mainstream papers. Our nation’s media has been so focused on the debt ceiling debacle and the phone hacking scandal that pleas by aid organizations for funds have gone unheard. In fact, only one American news organization, ABC News, has a journalist on the ground in the area — now dubbed the Triangle of Death by aid workers stunned by the catastrophic suffering. Yahoo News reports:

ABC claims that it is the only American news network to have a reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia—the epicenter of Africa’s deadly and increasingly violent famine.

But that may soon change.

On Monday, the New York Times ran a heartbreakingly powerful image taken by photographer Tyler Hicks of a starving Somalian child on its cover, above-the-fold.


Until now, the media—the Times included—has been distracted by phone hacking and debt ceiling coverage to focus on the crisis there.

“The famine in Africa has had to compete with the wrangling over the debt ceiling, the mobile phone hacking scandals in Britain, the killings in Norway and, in Africa itself, the birth of a new country, the Republic of South Sudan,” Stephanie Strom writes.

Aid workers have been warning the international community for some time that the ongoing war in the region combined with a worsening drought were destined to cause the massive food crisis now affecting 12 million individuals. It is a pathetic excuse to blame events of recent weeks for letting what some have called a man-made disaster progress to the point of costing almost one million innocent lives.

But more important than placing blame is focusing on what we can do now.

Organizations like British relief group Oxfam are stressing more than ever the urgent need for the public to donate funds — and for governments to follow through on their pledges. In addition, experts have underscored that organizations like the U.N. must work with local groups on the strategic delivery of support in war torn areas to side-step violent rebels.

It is unclear whether those seeking to ameliorate the devastation are being heard. Despite continuing requests for action, governments have been delayed in responding to the suffering bringing millions the brink of extinction.

In one startling example, The Washington Post revealed that recently “a donor conference [hosted by the African Union] to raise money for Somalia famine victims has been postponed for at least two weeks.” The reason for the postponement? Poor planning.

The region has suffered enough from the poor planning of world leaders, who keep pushing preventing the imminent deaths of millions to the bottom of their to-do lists. Many children in Somalia and Kenya do not have two weeks to live. The time is literally now or never, as the U.N. reports that the under-five death rate in Kenya is sharply rising.

In the midst of addressing our debt ceiling debate, President Obama admitted that this tragedy “hasn’t gotten as much attention here in the United States as it deserves.” If the American news media is culpable for failing to provide the necessary awareness, it is more important than ever for concerned citizens to make a grass roots efforts to assist the starving.

The New York Times has (finally) created a list of organizations working to provide aid to the Horn of Africa. It is important for us all to use this list to give what we can, in addition to pressuring world leaders to work intelligently to protect aid workers and refugees traveling through dangerous territories.

Rape is among the many dangers faced by Somalian women walking to refugee camps through areas studded with militants, and living on the outskirts of camps out of fear for their safety within them. The hell people are going through there is evident. The innocent are oppressed from all sides. Our insensitivity to their pain must end, regardless of the slow movements of those in power.

You have the power now to make a difference. Donate money, send emails to elected officials. Through our collective action, we might be able to prevent further calamity.

Are Christian Advocacy Groups Hiding Behind Jesus To Steal Babies?

May 16th, 2011 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

"Charing Ball"If you get an opportunity, check out the 2002 flick “Rabbit Proof Fence,” which tells the tale of two mixed race Aboriginal Australian girls who run away from a government-sponsored settlement camp. The girls walk for nine weeks, while being pursued by a tracker through Australia’s outback, in hopes of returning to their community and family.

I was unaware of Australia’s dubious history of institutionalizing Aboriginals against their will in government-sponsored camps where they were used for cheap labor and “re-education” until I watched the film, which is based on a true story. Up until the 1970s, it was government policy to “breed out” all native characteristics of the Australian Aborigine by controlling breeding and swaying the swift assimilation of “some Aboriginal people into the European population.” There was also the 1915 Aborigines Protection Amending Act, which enabled the Aborigines’ Protection Board to remove Aboriginal children from their parents without having to establish that they were in any way neglected or mistreated. Many of these stolen children were placed in good “Christian” families, sometimes overseas in Western countries, to aid in their assimilation.

I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I was again reminded of it while reading a story in “The Nation” about a growing trend called the evangelical adoption movement in which some Christians advocate for international adoptions from distressed countries like Haiti to address the worldwide “orphan crisis.” As result, evangelical adoption conferences are being held around the country, and between 1,000 and 2,000 churches participate in something called the “Orphan Sunday” event, which will be held in November. The call to serve appears to be working; as of last year, the evangelical adoption agency Bethany Christian Services announced that its adoption placements had increased 13 percent since 2009. This increase was in large part due to the mobilization of churches.

Perhaps there may not be anything shady about this whole deal.  Maybe this is just an extension of missionary work aimed at addressing child welfare needs in distressed countries. But in our own country where millions of children remain in state run foster care, you do have to question whether this is just the mission of some compassionate followers of Christ or the work of evangelical zealots that are baby snatching under the guise of Jesus.

Since the 1960s, there has been an increase in the number of inter-country adoptions with inquiries about international adoption up 95 percent among self-described Christians. The demand for global children is so high that the U.S. Department of State regularly lists and monitors open calls for adoption on its website.

Groups like UNICEF, one of the world’s most influential child welfare organizations, support inter-country adoption and have worked to ensure that many countries abide by the guidelines established by the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. However, UNICEF acknowledges that there are exploitative, unethical and outright illegal practices that exist in the inter-country adoption system. Issues such as the sale and abduction of children, coercion or manipulation of birth parents, falsification of documents and bribery, have all painted a troublesome picture of how inter-country adoption is sometimes executed. How can we forget the Laura Silsby saga, in which she and nine other Southern Baptists—who claimed to be motivated by God—were caught trying to transport thirty-three orphans from Haiti to an imaginary orphanage in the Dominican Republic.  There was also the story of the twenty-eight children from Leh, the Himalayan mountain region of India, who were rescued by police after a Christian-based NGO allegedly kidnapped them for the purpose of “religious conversion” and adoption. The issue of fraud, coercion and flat-out kidnapping related to international adoption is so unruly in Ethiopia that this past March, the country’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs reported that they would sharply reduce the number of adoption cases they would review from 50 cases per day to no more than 5 per day.

What instances like these should remind us is that there is an undercurrent of morally and superior arrogance even under the so-called best of intentions. This call for adoption only increases demand, which in turns fuels the trafficking of children and turning orphans into a commodity to be traded on the black market.  While Christian pro-adoption groups might really care about these children, they should also be just as concerned about the tactics that some countries and adoption agencies implore to place children with these “good Christian families.”

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

UNICEF: Measles Hits Tens of Thousands in Africa

April 22nd, 2010 - By TheEditor
Share to Twitter Email This

(AP) — The U.N. children’s agency says 16 countries in West and Central Africa are experiencing a measles outbreak this year.

UNICEF said Thursday that 185 people have died among more than 22,000 cases. The agency says it is $16 million short in its measles immunization campaign in Africa.

Read More…