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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Road to Awareness 2015 - The Movie!

Check out the video of the Road to Awareness bike ride across the Pyrennes,

On 24th - 26th August 2015, 17 brave Starwood ambassadors took to the mountains and cycled an incredible 430km over 3 days in  support of UNICEF!

The funds raised went towards UNICEF's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in the Middle East and North Africa, helping children and their families gain access to these life saving services. 

 

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How do you provide drinkable water to a remote population in the DRC?

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How do you provide drinkable water to a remote population in the DRC?

Despite the presence of water resources in the DRC, 51 million Congolese people still lack access to safe drinking water – nearly three-quarters of the country’s population. UNICEF supports the Healthy villages and Schools programme which aims to reduce infant mortality and the spread of water-borne diseases, as well as improve access to drinking water in rural and suburban areas.
 

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Michael Wale receives Unicef UK's Honorary Fellowship Award

  ©UNICEF/2013/AspectFilm  - In 2013 Michael Wale and Unicef UK visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan to see how funds from Check Out for Children are helping children across the Middle East get education during emergencies.

©UNICEF/2013/AspectFilm - In 2013 Michael Wale and Unicef UK visited the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan to see how funds from Check Out for Children are helping children across the Middle East get education during emergencies.

On July 6th, Unicef UK, awarded Michael Wale, President for Europe, Africa & Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the organisation’s work for children around the world.

Each Honorary Fellowship is awarded for five years and provides recognition and thanks for an individual’s hands-on involvement with Unicef, the world’s leading organisation for children. Michael Wale received his fellowship from Unicef UK President the Rt Hon Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon.

Michael began working with Unicef in 1995. Under his leadership, The Park Tower Knightsbridge (formerly Sheraton Park Tower) in London launched ‘Check Out for Children’, a partnership between Starwood Hotels & Resorts and UNICEF whereby guests at participating Starwood hotels around the world agree to the addition of US$1 (or local currency equivalent) to their bills when they check out.

Michael Wale said: “I am delighted to receive from Unicef UK this prestigious recognition of the Honorary Fellowship award. For two decades Unicef and Starwood have worked together to try and make a difference in the lives of more than four million children. Doing the right thing is a core Starwood value and this partnership has unleashed our associates’ and guests’ passion across 250 hotels to help those in greater need. This year as we commemorate our 20th anniversary milestone, we aim to internally fundraise one million dollars, our biggest target to date. I hope our impact and partnership with Unicef continues to grow so more children can get the best possible start in life.” 

An Honorary Fellowship is a special award made by Unicef to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to Unicef’s work supporting children. The first Honorary Fellowships were awarded in 2002 and since then just 28 people have received the award.

Thank you Michael Wale for your consierable and unwavering support for Unicef over the last 20 years, and for children all over the world. Your Fellowship is truly deserved! 

For the full press release on Unicef UK's Honorary Fellowships click here

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Katherine’s story: promoting WASH at school

Katherine’s story: promoting WASH at school

Katherine Ondoga is 12 years old and goes to school in Naros Village in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya. She helps to promote healthy behaviours among her peers at school.