UNICEF Field Trip Part 1: Bolivia

03 Nov 2012|Marina Cozzika

When Ben Wood, Added Value group’s Innovation Director, came by my desk to share the news that we had won the Big Idea competition to raise money across the Kantar’s network for the UNICEF, and that I was going to Bolivia on a field trip as a first prize winner, it took me a moment to process the news.
And then excitement took over.
But as I started to be put in the loop of emails to prepare the trip, I began to wonder: what did I really know about UNICEF? Plain simple, what did I know about Bolivia?

Apart from what I learned about Bolivian art through my history of art studies at the Ecole du Louvre (link) like the famous “Gate of the Sun” at Tiwanaku, and what comes through international daily news on BBC International, I did not know much. I started reading books and talking to friends to gather more information but I realized that we, Westerners, don’t know much about this part of the world. And so I was soon gathering facts and figures about Bolivia and the work the UNICEF was doing there.
From what I figured and with the help of Google, Bolivia is a striking and beautiful country. It is a landlocked Latin American country, with a varied geography from the cold peaks of the Andes in the West with the highest capital in the world as La Paz (3660 m), to the hot Eastern Lowlands, situated within the Amazon Basin. In 2005 Bolivians elected Evo Morales as President, leader to the Movement toward Socialism after he ran on a promise to change the country’s traditional political class and empower the nation’s poor, indigenous majority. It is a developing country, with a Medium Human Development Index score, and a poverty level of 53%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia has a young population. According to the 2011 census, 59% of the population is between 15 and 59 years old, 39% is less than 15 years old. Almost 60% of the population is younger than 25 years. Sadly, infant mortality in Bolivia is the highest of Latin America, and only 75% of children have access to drinkable water. On education, 90% have access to Primary school, but only 75% finish high-school.
To know more about the UNICEF presence in Bolivia, I accessed their website. UNICEF has worked in Bolivia since 1950. It implements programs aimed at achieving sustainable human development for children, adolescents, women and indigenous people. It has a clear objective: “Safeguard the lives of children by promoting their development, ensuring their legal protection and their participation in society.” As I would soon discover, UNICEF is currently working on a country wide program, as well as smaller more prescriptive programs that are running from 2008 to 2012 with 5 goals:
– The development of children
– A healthy environment (access to running water, sanitary…)
– Citizenship (some children are not registered at birth, do not have papers, and without legal existence they can’t work)
– The protection of children against violence (sexual crimes, mistreatments…)
– Action to change things on a more technical level (lobbying)
UNICEF does not believe into storming into a country and doing things their way. Instead, it works with the Bolivian government, different NGOs, and indigenous unions and associations. The field trip was designed to show us how funds raised for Kantar’s Brighter Futures were used.
After gathering all this information, I was getting really excited about the trip. An amazing journey was ahead of me in the company of three other people I would learn to know and respect in the space of five days (a lifetime really, given the tight schedule): Richard from Kantar Operations, Rosa from Kantar Worldpanel, and Libia from Futures Company.
And so I took-off from Paris, France, for an eye-opening field trip to the other side of the world, to discover the sometimes harsh realities of the situation of children and their family, but also the hope that lies in their future thanks to the work done by UNICEF and partner organizations.
About Brighter Futures
In October 2010, UNICEF and Kantar launched Brighter Futures, a partnership to help give underprivileged children a better life and allow them to fulfil their true potential.
The partnership has committed to raise $1 million by 2014 to support projects in Bangladesh, Bolivia and Malawi. Most money will be raised through employee fundraising.

To launch the programme, in celebration of Universal Children’s Day, Kantar employees worldwide sold Brighter Futures wristbands in their offices.

This has been followed by a series of events through 2011.

In 2010 a team of Kantar employees trekked up Mount Kilimanjaro over five days and raised more than $85,000. In November 2011, the company has a 40-strong team cycling from the Andes to the Amazon to raise funds for the partnership.
There are hundreds of charity champions working across the Kantar network to gain support for the programme.

Kantar has been working with UNICEF since 2010. Since then, Kantar corporate and employee fundraising events have raised $600,000 for the three projects one of which in Malawi called Children Corners project, where children who have lost their parents to AIDS can receive basic medical help, practical advice and access to a dedicated support worker.

If you would like to make a donation to the Kantar Brighter Futures programme, please go to www.kantarbrighterfutures.com.

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