Thursday, May 26, 2016

Finding inspiration in the field

By Gabé Hirschowitz, UNICEF Next Generation in Los Angeles

While drinking my bottled water as I sit down to write this blog post, I am instantly reminded of the children I met in Kupang who walk twice a day for two hours (once in the morning before school, and once in the afternoon after school) to collect clean water for their families.

Four hours per day. How could this be? How is this fair?  Why is clean and safe drinking water not readily available to children and families around the world?

These are just some of the many thoughts running through my mind as I choke up thinking about the world water crisis that so many individuals face on a daily basis. Every single being has the right to clean water. It’s shocking that so many go without it in 2016.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

‘This was a trip of a lifetime’

By Kelly Wilson, Chair, UNICEF Next Generation in Los Angeles

I have never been anywhere like it; one country with two entirely separate worlds, and those two worlds crashing on top of each other, clashing into each other’s space and fighting for resources, time and attention. Indonesia is facing the challenges of a rapidly growing urban country while still trying to tackle problems linked to a third-world nation. Surprisingly, there seems to be no physical divide between the ultra-wealthy and the poor; slums next to mansions, abandoned buildings next to glossy skyscrapers, open defecation in front of government monuments. Indonesia has the 16th largest GDP in the world and the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, yet the tide has not lifted all boats, and Indonesia throws that right in your face.

Our first day, we visited a slum built on top of a working landfill. Nothing quite prepares you for the numbness you feel seeing countless family homes surrounded by trash, teenagers without shoes texting on brand new cell phones and young children scratching their heads because of the permanent presence of lice. And just when you think your brain has had enough, a child comes running up to you and kisses your hand. Among the crumbling buildings and heaps of waste, she smiled. She was with her family, and she was happy. I was sweetly reminded of the unwavering humanity of children and why they deserve nothing less than our protection and support, no matter how complicated the solution may seem.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Experiencing UNICEF Indonesia’s work firsthand

By Casey Rotter, Founder of UNICEF Next Generation

For me, traveling with UNICEF Indonesia was an incredible experience. Not only was it amazing to get to see UNICEF’s powerful work firsthand and meet families whose lives have been changed — even saved—  thanks to this remarkable organization, but it was also special for me as a staff member to witness our NextGen members experience UNICEF’s work in-person for the first time. Watching donors truly grasp the nature and depth of UNICEF’s work by being in the field is special in and of itself.  After years of being involved with the organization, these dedicated NextGen members were able to finally put a face and a name to the staff they have supported and the children whose lives have been transformed by their fundraising efforts and personal donations.

This is what donor field visits are all about. No matter how much you think you may know about UNICEF, there is nothing better than meeting the unparalleled staff who are working on the ground every single day, getting to spend the day with government partners and truly gain an understanding of how much they trust and respect UNICEF’s word and partnership, listening to an empowered teenager advocate for their peers’ rights, and looking into a mother’s eyes as she tells you that if it wasn’t for UNICEF’s support of her local Posyandu, the baby who is smiling in her arms would not be here today.

Watching her fight back tears is something none of us will ever forget, and something that propelled us further into our work for UNICEF. For these experiences, we are forever grateful. So, TERIMA KASIH to UNICEF Indonesia, UNICEF’s partners in the country, all of the incredible volunteers we met and our whole NextGen family who support such incredible work.

A handful of Next Generation members travelled to Indonesia from the United States recently to see up close how the money they helped raise for UNICEF Indonesia’s Innovation labs is making lasting change. Below are their first-person accounts of their time in Indonesia: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Friday, May 20, 2016


By Leila Ladjevardian, Next Generation in New York 

UNICEF Next Generation is an incredible group that provides young professionals with the unique opportunity to contribute their time, funds and energy towards helping the world’s most vulnerable children. I have been involved with NextGen for almost five years now, and I currently serve as the Vice Chair of the New York Steering Committee.

I dedicate much of my free time towards NextGen’s goals and initiatives through hosting fundraisers, contributing to programmatic events and recruiting new members. One question I frequently get asked is, “Why UNICEF?”

In the past, my answer consisted of: “UNICEF is an international organization that puts children first.  No matter what the politics are, no matter how dire the situation — UNICEF works with local governments to make sure that children are being taken care of. I am a first generation Iranian-American and appreciate the international component of the organization. To add to that, my mother has been highly involved with UNICEF for years, which allowed me to develop a relationship with the organization from an early age.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to inspire change?

By Bonner Campbell, Next Generation in Los Angeles 

A handful of Next Generation members travelled to Indonesia from the United States recently to see up close how the money they helped raise for UNICEF Indonesia’s Innovation labs is making lasting change. Below are their first-person accounts of their time in Indonesia: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The first thing that hit me when I landed was the heat. Even at night, Jakarta is a sweltering 80°F (27 degrees Celsius) city. I’m here for one week with other NextGen members to conduct field visits to UNICEF programmes. Indonesia is the first country to house two separate UNICEF innovation labs: one in Jakarta, the country’s bustling capital city, and one in Kupang, a town on the island of Timor.

I was sold on the concept of an “innovation lab." The innovation labs in Indonesia focus on adolescent and youth engagement as well as emergency response. The labs involve students in the Global Design for UNICEF Challenge and explore issues as diverse as birth registration and disaster response.

Although gains in the fight against poverty have been made, there is still so much to be done and innovative ideas are crucial. I am here to see how UNICEF can stretch limited resources and ensure we are spending in areas where we can have the greatest impact. Furthermore, how can I inspire people back home to believe what is happening halfway across the world matters to them and their future?

This week’s itinerary consists of 11-hour days of press junket-style presentations from local UNICEF staff and visits to the field and partner programmes. I’m really looking forward to a chance to engage directly with the work that UNICEF is doing. I want to come back armed with increased cultural understanding and more ideas on how UNICEF and NextGen can continue to dramatically impact lives and build a more stable future for today’s youth.

While it’s hot in Indonesia, hopefully we can cook up some ideas.