AND THE WINNERS ARE...

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AND THE WINNERS ARE...

We are pleased to share with you the winners of the Hero Awards recognising those ambassadors who went above and beyond for the partnership in 2016. This year we have two winners for Europe and two winners for the Middle East and Africa. 

 

The Sheraton Grand Hotel Edinburgh Front Desk Team  At the start of 2016 The Sheraton Grand’s Hotel Front Desk team decided that COFC was going to be one of their main focuses. They all took part in additional training to be able to explain the Unicef program in detail to guests and the difference the donation can make to the children in need.

The team managed to raise an incredible £10540 through COFC. This is the highest amount in the past 5 years and a 40% increase from 2015. The hotel hosted their own celebration party in recognition of their amazing achievement.  

 

Maria Dolores Munoz from the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville  Each year the Hotel Alfonso XIII supports the Unicef partnership and all the hotel associates gets involved.

Maria is the driving force behind the events and activities. She inspires her colleagues to take part or help with the organising by her passion and dedication. Maria puts 110% into the activities she is organising and is a fantastic ambassador and a worthy winner.

 

Marilize van Niekerk from the Westin Cape Hotel in South Africa  Each year an amazing Unicef ball takes place at the Westin Cape Hotel in South Africa which not only raises a huge amount of money but also gets fantastic PR coverage. The guests love the event so much they call up the hotel the next day to buy tickets for next year! Marilize is the driving force behind this event and she is one of the key reasons it is such a success. This is not an easy event to put on but Marilize plans early, thinks creatively and her passion and enthusiasm encourages the whole hotel to get behind the event.

 

Antonio Ostuni from the Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai  As part of their 2016 Road to Awareness campaign the Sheraton Grand Hotel Dubai organised a very successful Culinary Evening and Auction event which was a great success. Antonio’s role in organising the event was crucial and he oversaw and managed the event with great pride and enthusiasm. He managed to pull together all the executive chefs from around the region to assemble an amazing culinary array of dishes, menus and individual setups. Antonio put a huge amount of time and effort in the event and was one of the major highlights in the hotel’s calendar.  

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In Guinea-Bissau, teenagers sing the praises of handwashing

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In Guinea-Bissau, teenagers sing the praises of handwashing

In Guinea-Bissau, a nationwide campaign is underway to promote handwashing as a way to reduce the spread of diseases. Teenagers are getting involved by writing songs and rap music about the importance of washing your hands with soap.

For any aspiring musician, hearing your song on the radio is a major milestone. This year, 19-year-olds Lizidória Mendes and Venâncio Cá got to experience this dream come true when their songs “Laba Mon” (wash your hands) and "Iagu ku sabon" (water with soap) were chosen as the winners of a Global Handwashing Day song writing contest, organized by UNICEF.

Lizidória and Venâncio developed the lyrics and rap music to support the global effort to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap to prevent illness and disease. Their songs were used in radio spots prior to Global Handwashing Day, and have since become so popular that they are now played on radio stations across Guinea-Bissau.

 “Handwashing is one of the absolutely most important and simple acts anyone can do to reduce transmission of diseases, not only diarrhoea but also infectious diseases such as flu. Guinea-Bissau is a country closely connected with music and it is also a country with predominantly young people. The music competition winners really have an incredible talent not only in singing but also communicating to their peers.” Fredrik Asplund, UNICEF Guinea-Bissau Chief Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).

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Road to Awareness fundraising- What a year!

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Road to Awareness fundraising- What a year!

The 2016 Road to Awareness campaign has been truly amazing and we are on track to raise over £780,000 this year. This money has come directly from the fantastic Starwood Legacy Hotel associates volunteering their time to organise and take part in a whole variety of fundraising activities.

In true team spirit many hotels this year have been joining forces to organise fundraising events including fun runs, gala dinners and balls. Alongside these events there has been literally hundreds of smaller activities taking place. Cinema nights, staff raffles, quiz nights and simple money collections. These have all brought associates together, created great team building opportunities, and everyone has had a lot of fun.   

Top Tips

Over the past year we’ve been asking everyone for their top fundraising tips and here are the ones that we hear the most.

Plan early- There is always more to do than you think and planning activities earlier makes it more manageable and allows more time for marketing your event

Join forces with other associates and other hotels- The more people to help you organise your fundraising activity the better. Not only can you share the work load you have more people to advertise your activity.

Use your assets- Many associates have cleverly used their hotels' assets for fundraising events. We’ve seen 24 hour rowing challenges in hotel gyms, cinema screenings and fundraising parties taking place your hotel bars.  

Keep it simple- Many associates tell us that focusing on two or three activities a year and keeping the activities simple make it easier to organise and often raise more.

There is still money coming in and the final events of the year are taking place so watch this space for the final total that will be announced in the New Year! 

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A long overdue ‘place of convenience’ for an entire community in Ghana

For the past 25 years, the Ho SDA School in Ghana’s Volta region has had no toilets on campus. The situation forced students and teachers to find their own ways to manage without these facilities, creating issues with both sanitation and attendance at the school. But a new urban sanitation project is underway in Ho, finally bringing these long overdue ‘places of convenience’ to the school.

By using schools as entry points, the urban sanitation project is harnessing the power children have as agents of behaviour change in their communities. Over time, the students will share with their families and neighbours all of the knowledge they have gained on sanitation and proper use of the facilities.

The Ho SDA School Complex recently commissioned two new blocks of four-seater Kumasi Ventilated Improved Pit (KVIP) toilet facilities with disability-friendly space and a room for managing menstrual hygiene.

Seventeen year old Happy Gomado is particularly grateful for the toilets at school because she does not have a bathroom in her home. “I have trained myself not to go when I am in school, but since this came, I feel so happy and excited”, she says.

As Ho begins to enjoy the benefits of a clean community, Happy and all the children at the Ho SDA School have the opportunity to make a permanent impact on the future of their town. In fact, Abraham has already noticed a difference: “Since the toilets were opened, our campus is cleaner and more hygienic.”

 

The amazing support we received from your incredible fundraising is helping support children like Happy and Abraham all over Africa and the Middle East to gain access to clean, save water and sanitation. A huge thank you from everyone at UNICEF.  

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A view from the field : Starwood associates visit UNICEF WASH projects in Djibouti

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A view from the field : Starwood associates visit UNICEF WASH projects in Djibouti

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the partnership between Starwood Hotels & Resorts and UNICEF, Starwood hosted a Check Out for Children Associate Video Challenge in 2015, asking their hotel teams all around Europe, Africa and Middle East to create short videos demonstrating their passion and dedication to UNICEF and the partnership. The winner of the challenge would have the chance to visit a UNICEF project and experience their work first-hand. There were many excellent and creative entries, with the final voting being so close, that Starwood decided to award two winners. Nanji Tyem from the Sheraton Abuja Hotel and Olga Hadzewicz-Kopka from the Hotel Bristol in Warsaw were the lucky ones who then travelled to Djibouti along with Yvonne Kestermann from Starwood’s EAME Global Citizenship team, to find out how the money raised at their hotels and so many other Starwood properties is helping UNICEF to transform children’s lives.

Olga, Nanji and Yvonne. Copyright: UNICEF

 

Located in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is one of the smallest and most dry countries on the planet where 157,000 children live in absolute poverty, and many don’t have access to safe water and sanitation. Without access to clean water and safe sanitation, children can catch waterborne diseases, which can have a devastating effect on their health and education.

The Starwood team landed in Djibouti to see first-hand how UNICEF’s vital water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects are changing the lives of children and families in the country.  As Yvonne Kestermann said, reflecting on the WASH projects they saw, “the effect that these WASH projects have on a community as a whole is impressive. It means that women and girls don’t have to carry litres of water for several kilometres each day, that hospitals are cleaner and diseases spread less easily, that babies and children have a better chance of surviving, going to school and getting an education… and the positive cycle continues.”

Yvonne, Nanji and Olga all remember a number of highlights from the trip. All three praised the hard work of UNICEF’s staff in the field – as Olga said, “many of UNICEF’s field staff work very hard under challenging conditions to bring about real change for children” and Nanji was ‘moved to tears’ by the water project she saw in As-Eyla, Dikhil district. As-Eyla is in the middle of the desert and clean water is very hard to come by.

A water source in Djibouti : copyright UNICEF

The town had a very high number of pregnant women miscarrying, which was very distressing for the women and the wider community. A key reason for this was the lack of access to water, as pregnant women had to walk long distances to collect water and then carry heavy loads home. However this situation was improved when UNICEF intervened; as Nanji said, “UNICEF was able to work with this local community to build a solar energy powered well bringing respite to the people there.” This was just one of many examples of effective UNICEF programmes that Nanji, Olga and Yvonne saw, which cannot happen without the support of fundraisers like the associates at Starwood.

 

Water facilities in Djibouti : copyright UNICEF

UNICEF’s work in emergencies was also highlighted during the trip. Across the world UNICEF is responding to a number of emergencies at any time, helping children caught up in a crisis get the clean water, nutrition, medical attention and education they urgently need. Olga, Nanji and Yvonne visited Markazi refugee camp with the UNICEF team, which is a camp in northern Djibouti hosting mainly refugees fleeing the ongoing violence in Yemen. On visiting the camp, Olga said she was “impressed to find it so well organised”. Yvonne was also moved by the visit to the camp; she reflected that “the moment I will never forget is the sound I heard when we first arrived in the camp and stepped out of our cars –the happy singing of a group of children. The happiness coming from their voices was such a contrast to what we were seeing in the camp. This reminded me of how resilient children are, even in desperate situations like this, and how it is our duty as adults in this world to protect the happiness of children everywhere.”

© UNICEF/UNI191333/Matas

© UNICEF/UNI191333/Matas

UNICEF’s work to protect children in countries like Djibouti across the world ensures they not only survive, but thrive and can only continue with the dedication and commitment of fundraisers like the associates of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. As Nanji said, reflecting on her experiences travelling with UNICEF, “after this trip I see UNICEF as a top notch organisation. I will encourage and drive our teams to support UNICEF. Now I can fully understand how UNICEF uses our donations to provide the enabling environment for children to survive, be healthy, and become great leaders in the future.”

Olga, Nanji and Yvonne with UNICEF staff in Djibouti. Copyright : UNICEF

Banner image credit : © UNICEF/UNI181391/Seixas

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Celebrating success : UNICEF Egypt and Le Meridien Cairo Airport helping young people to gain workplace skills

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Celebrating success : UNICEF Egypt and Le Meridien Cairo Airport helping young people to gain workplace skills

UNICEF Egypt and Le Meridien Cairo Airport have teamed up to help young graduates gain crucial workplace skills through their ground-breaking apprenticeship in hospitality.  
The initiative is jointly implemented by UNICEF, Le Meridien Cairo Airport and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and according to Said Dalla Abou Senna, Private Sector Partnership Specialist at UNICEF, it ‘shows how the private sector can help in combatting the huge unemployment problem of youth in Egypt.’


Le Meridien Cairo Airport approached UNICEF as Starwood Hotels and Resorts' global charity partner to work on the exciting new initiative. The hotel management were able to select young people involved in UNICEF’s existing youth development projects in Egypt, who then started a three month internship working in the hotel’s four main departments: operations, administration, engineering and human resources. As well as this, the young graduates had the opportunity to improve their English language skills and be mentored by experienced hotel staff members who recounted their career paths.


The programme has already made a great impact on the young graduates’ lives and outlook. ‘I’ve spent three weeks at the front office department, dealing with all sorts of clients and personalities,’ said Rana Yasser, 24, who was born with a speech impairment disability. ‘It has taught me a lot, not just about hotel management but about being patient, witty and efficient’. At the end of the internship programme and with the name of Le Meridien Cairo Airport Hotel on their CVs, the young people involved now feel confident in their abilities and in their chances when applying for jobs.


For three of the eight young interns there was even more great news at the end of the internship – they were offered permanent jobs at Le Meridien Cairo Airport and are now part of the hotel’s staff.


This programme is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when Starwood hotels work with UNICEF to improve young people’s lives. For the young graduates reached through this programme, it offered them a crucial first step into a long and successful career in the hospitality business.

Image copyright: UNICEF. Young graduates learning key skills at Le Meridien Cairo Airport.

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Making a difference : Genet's story

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Making a difference : Genet's story

What difference are you making when you ask a guest to Check Out for Children? Check Out for Children, Make a Green Choice and Road to Awareness all fund UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene work, providing clean, safe water and sanitation to children and families across the Middle East and Africa. Many of us take having clean water for granted, but 663 million people across the world still don’t have clean drinking water. Can you imagine what life would be like for a child without clean water?

Not having clean, safe drinking water can have a terrible effect on a child’s health. Every day, on average, over 1000 children die from diseases caused by contaminated drinking water. Drinking unsafe water can also leave a child too ill to attend school, which could have a devastating impact on their education.

UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene teams are working across the world in more than 100 countries to change this, with the help of the generosity of Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ customers and associates. We are working to change this to make sure children like Genet Tesfaye have the chance to survive and thrive.

Genet lives in Lode Lemofo Kebele in Ethiopia. High temperatures are common, and during the dry seasons she had to walk for many hours in the hot sun just to collect water. Now, thanks to UNICEF and partners, there is a safe water source less than 10 minutes’ walk away. ‘Water is everything’, said Genet.

Please keep organising R2A events and asking guests to Check Out for Children so that we can help more children like Genet. Remember, just $1 is enough to reach 9 children with lifesaving clean water.

Donate now to help us reach more children like Genet in the Middle East and Africa

Image credit: © UNICEF/UN09387/Sewunet

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Thank you Hero Awards winners and Regional R2A Champions!

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Thank you Hero Awards winners and Regional R2A Champions!

We’re excited and proud to announce the winners of the 2015 UNICEF Hero Awards!

2015 was the 20th anniversary of Starwood’s partnership with UNICEF, and associates and guests across the Europe, Africa and Middle East region raised over $2 million for UNICEF’s work helping children to access clean water and safe sanitation across the Middle East and Africa. These funds were raised via 3 main fundraising streams – Check Out for Children, the guest facing fundraising program, where guests can leave $1 for UNICEF when they check out of participating hotels; Make A Green Choice, where guests can decline housekeeping services, and in return one of the benefit options is for the hotel to make a $5 (or $2.5 depending on the brand) donation to UNICEF on their behalf, and last but not least, Road to Awareness (R2A), Starwood’s annual internal associate fundraising campaign.

While all Starwood associates who helped fundraise for UNICEF last year are heroes, the Hero Award winners have been nominated by their peers to have all gone above and beyond for UNICEF, tirelessly organising R2A fundraising events, promoting Check Out for Children to guests, and ensuring their colleagues are up to date about the program.

All the winners of the Hero Awards have made a fantastic contribution to the partnership and shown true dedication, and we would like to congratulate you on your success!

Theresa Cramer, winner for the East-Central Europe region, is consistently coming up with new fundraising events and even helped organise an R2A cycle in Munich which raised almost €10,000. Ayrton Ramos and Frances Speedie, winners for Western Europe, are both committed fundraisers for UNICEF, and have created a wave of encouragement across all London associates to get involved with the partnership and the fundraising efforts. Maria Tazi from the Sheraton Casablanca has organised creative and stylish fundraising events such as the Fashion Show Kaftans – Haute Couture and she also ensures the Front Office teams are able to speak to guests about Check Out for Children and its projects. Florence Boulet at the EAME divisional office organised bake sales for six months and would ensure that every last piece was sold. For the Southern Europe region, the award went to the UNICEF Committee at the Florence Complex with over 20 nominations. Last but not least, the team at the Westin Abu Dhabi has shown incredible team spirit and come together to raise a huge amount for children.

As well as saying a huge thank you to the Hero Awards winners, we also want to recognise the hard work and extra effort our Regional Road to Awareness Champions put into the annual associate fundraising campaign - Marijo Ecaranum, Tiziana Tschudin, Shahenaz Melhuish, Gianfranco Masiero and Kam Hudson. These individuals don’t only help encourage participation in R2A across their regions, but they provide huge administrative support in collecting and tracking the fundraising results of the hotels and offices.

Without the hard work and enthusiasm from our UNICEF Heroes, Regional R2A Champions, guests and all the associates and teams throughout Europe, Africa and Middle East who help support the partnership, we could not have raised over $2 million for UNICEF throughout 2015. We thank you sincerely and know we can count on you to make 2016 just as great and continue to help UNICEF transform children’s lives around the world.

Keep fundraising in 2016! Just $1 is enough to provide 9 children with clean water for a month – with COFC and R2A you can help transform lives. Could you be the next UNICEF Hero?

Image copyright: © UNICEF/UNI115252/Asselin

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Thank you from UNICEF!

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Thank you from UNICEF!

Thanks to the incredible hard work and commitment of Starwood teams in Europe, Arica and the Middle East, in 2015 we raised over $1.1 million for UNICEF through the associate fundraising campaign Road to Awareness! This money will help UNICEF to make sure more children in the Middle East and Africa have clean, safe water and improved sanitation – lifesaving work which helps to keep children safe from deadly but preventable water borne diseases.

Associates in Europe, Africa and the Middle East fundraising for Road to Awareness baked, cycled, even swam their way to raising over $1.1 million through a huge variety of fantastic fundraising events that surpassed our ambitious target of $1 million in 2015.

This money will help UNICEF to provide vital safe water and improved sanitation for children like Sheleshita, Maureen and Sikola in Malawi. For them, the water point installed in their village is vital. It is a relief for them to know that, thanks to the water point, they no longer have to walk 5 kilometres every day to fetch water – leaving the girls with more time for homework and for play with their friends. When asked what having safe water means to them, the girls smile. ‘Water is happiness’, says Sikola.

UNICEF cannot provide these vital services for children without the support of dedicated fundraisers, so in 2016 we want to raise even more for children. Whether Starwood associates want to take on a challenge, hold a bake sale or simply ask guests to Check Out for Children, their support will have a huge impact and will help fundraise for UNICEF in 2016.

Thank you again to Starwood's EAME associates for all your ongoing and passionate support! Now let’s start planning for 2016!

Image: © UNICEF/UNI192032/Asselin



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Celebrating 20 years of a life-changing partnership

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Celebrating 20 years of a life-changing partnership

On 25th November Starwood and Unicef came together to celebrate 20 years of their Check Out for Children partnership which has helped change the lives of over 4.5 million children around the world.

Since 1995 Starwood guests and employees have raised almost $35 million to help Unicef immunise children against killer diseases, provide clean water for communities, distribute life-saving mosquito nets, establish schools, provide counselling for vulnerable children and much more.

To mark the special occasion, Unicef Ambassadors and High Profile Supporters shared images of themselves and their work for children in areas supported by the partnership via a unique photography exhibition at Le Meridien Piccadilly in London.

Eleven well known faces featured in the exhibition, some pictured within  the photos alongside children they met through their work, including a couple of selfies, and others where the stars stood behind the lens themselves and let the observer see the children through their own eyes.  

The full line-up included Robbie Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Roger Moore, Sir Chris Hoy, Michael Sheen, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGregor, Eddie Izzard, Jessie Ware, Emma Bunton and Claudia Schiffer, all of whom have supported Unicef’s work for children around the world.

The event featured moving speeches from representatives of both Starwood and Unicef UK. Starwood’s President for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Michael Wale, spoke about his involvement in the launch of Check Out for Children in London 20 years ago. Robert Scott, Starwood’s former SVP and General Counsel for EAME and now Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees for Unicef UK, shared how he came up with the idea of Check Out for Children whilst on a business trip in Ethiopia, where he saw the contrast between the hotel that was being built and the poverty outside, knowing there must be a way to help. Finally Lily Caprani, Deputy Executive Director at Unicef UK, gave a powerful speech about how much the world has changed for the better for children in the last 20 years, but also how far we still have to go to ensure every child is safe from dangers that still exist today.

After the guests had enjoyed the exhibition and listened to the emotive speeches, the night of celebration drew to an end. Unicef would like to say a huge thank you to Starwood for working with us for the last 20 years to change so many children’s lives for the better.

 

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