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At a glance: United States of America

UNICEF and US Fund host World of Children 10th-anniversary awards

© UNICEF/HQ07-1616/Markisz
World of Children founder Harry Leibowitz presents the Founder's Award to Teresa Cheptoo, 16, of Kenya; at right is Craig Leibowitz, son of the founder, who emceed the awards ceremony.

By Susan Markisz

NEW YORK, USA, 8 November 2007 – Teresa Cheptoo, 16, a Kenyan youth activist and passionate opponent of female genital mutilation/cutting, was among eight individuals whose advocacy work was honoured today at the World of Children Awards.

Presented at UNICEF House in New York in a ceremony hosted by the US Fund for UNICEF, the awards also recognized children’s advocates and humanitarians from Argentina, India, Peru and the United States.

“It’s very hard to imagine what courage it takes for a 12-year-old to stand up to a tradition that is perhaps 1,000 years old, and to which all of her elders and peers have submitted. But Teresa has done just that,” said World of Children founder Harry Leibowitz as he introduced the young honouree and presented her with the Founder’s Award.

© UNICEF/HQ07-1618/Markisz
Honorees at the World of Children Awards (left to right): Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Carmen Masias, Dr. Mark Manary, Meghan Pasricha, Carol Sasaki, Dr. Ricardo Bennun and Teresa Cheptoo.

Awards in three categories

On receiving her award, a cash grant of $15,000, Teresa said: “I want to thank the World of Children for choosing me to come here to receive the award. And I assure you that I am going to take the girls who are already circumcised and bring them back to school and … motivate the others who are at home.”

Cash grants awarded each year for the past decade by World of Children, a US-based non-governmental organization, go to individuals who have made significant contributions in three categories:

  • The Health Award honours lifetime achievement in the field of health, medicine or the sciences
  • The Humanitarian Award recognizes individuals who have made a long-term difference in the area of social services
  • And the Founder’s Award – which Teresa received this year – goes to a young person under 21 who has made extraordinary efforts to improve the lives of his or her peers.

‘Collaborative efforts’ on child health

Dr. Mark Manary, a professor of paediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, and a senior lecturer in paediatrics at the Medical College of Malawi in Blantyre, Malawi, was the recipient of the 2007 World of Children Health Award.

© UNICEF/HQ07-1619/Markisz
US Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern speaks at the World of Children Awards held at UNICEF House in New York.

The award came with a grant of $50,000 to his organization, Project Peanut Butter, for its success in saving the lives of undernourished children in Malawi by providing them with ready-to-eat therapeutic food.

“All good things are large and collaborative efforts,” said Dr. Manary. “We may honour one person here today, but the organizations who are doing this work involve many, many people and contributors on many levels.”

He added that UNICEF, the World Food Programme and various NGOs have contributed to the success of Project Peanut Butter, which he now hopes to expand to Sierra Leone with the help of the World of Children grant.

Praise for recipients

This year’s other World of Children Award winners include:

  • Dr. Ricardo Bennun, who works in his native Argentina helping underprivileged children obtain surgeries for cleft lips and palates
  • Dr. Samir Chaudhuri, Director of the Child in Need Institute in Calcutta, India
  • Inderjit Khurana, founder of the Ruchika Social Service Organization in Bhubaneswar, India
  • Carmen Masias, a champion of drug-free communities in Peru
  • Meghan Pasricha, an anti-smoking youth advocate from Delaware, USA, and founder of the Global Youth Health Education and Leadership Program
  • Carol Sasaki, founder of the International Humanity Foundation, which helps women escape sexual slavery.

US Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl Stern praised all of the award recipients.

“Many of us have been taught that if you save one life, you save the world,” she said. “It’s an honour today to stand in front of a group of people who do just that. We especially thank our guests [World of Children founders Harry and Kay Leibowitz] for the work that you’ve done – not only because you recognize the value of those who help children but also because you actually support it.

“You make it possible for us to do the work we do,” Ms. Stern added.



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