UNICEF receives the highest Kiwanis honor, World Service Medal

| Jul 26, 2017

The World Service Medal is the highest honor Kiwanis gives 2016–17 Kiwanis International President Jane Erickson (left) and 2016–17 Kiwanis Children's Fund President Chia Sing "Sing" Hwang (right) present the 2017 World Service Medal to Susan Namondo Ngongi of UNICEF Ghana.

PARIS, France (July 15, 2017) – Every Kiwanis club member realizes the importance of partnerships and how much can be accomplished with partners who share common goals.

Because of a strong partnership, every Kiwanian knows about UNICEF, the 2017 recipient of Kiwanis’ highest honor, the Kiwanis World Service Medal. The honor was given to UNICEF during the 2017 Kiwanis International Convention in Paris.

“There is no organization that better exemplifies an outstanding dedication to serving the children of the world,” said 2016-17 Kiwanis International President Jane Erickson. “This award has been given to celebrities, unsung heroes and organizations that have helped change the world. It’s only fitting that it would now be given to UNICEF.” 

The Kiwanis International World Service Medal Kiwanis and UNICEF are currently partnering on The Eliminate Project, an effort to help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus, and also partnered on an earlier project to iodize salt. The effort to iodize salt has been heralded as one of the most successful humanitarian efforts ever, as Kiwanis raised and leveraged more than US$100 million to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental and developmental disabilities in the world. With The Eliminate Project, UNICEF and Kiwanis have raised US$110 million in gifts and pledges to fund vaccines that can prevent tetanus, a disease that threatens the lives of millions of women and babies around the world. 

“Kiwanis and UNICEF are the gold standard for partners who can accomplish great things by leveraging their strengths to help children around the world,” Erickson said. 

The honor was given by Kiwanis International and the Kiwanis Children’s Fund and was accepted by Susan Namondo Ngongi of UNICEF Ghana. The Kiwanis Children's Fund provided a US$50,000 grant to further UNICEF's work and as part of the honor.

“The medal is awarded for service that enhances the quality of life for children, and benefits children in a substantial way,” said Chia-Sing Hwang, president of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund, when making the presentation. “This year’s winner certainly qualifies, as UNICEF has worked hand in hand with Kiwanis to make certain The Eliminate Project is a success.” 

UNICEF’s involvement was evident for Erickson, who saw how Kiwanis and UNICEF work together during a trip to Tanzania as Kiwanis International president. 

“We have seen first-hand the work of UNICEF in allowing children to thrive, prosper and grow as UNICEF turns funding into life-saving and life-nurturing action in places few others can reach,” Erickson said. 

UNICEF Director Anthony Lake was unable to accept the award in person, but thanked Kiwanis via video for including UNICEF in the company of previous recipients that include Sir Roger Moore, Mother Theresa and Audrey Hepburn. 

“From our work together to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders—one of the greatest public health triumphs of the 20th century … to your continuing fundraising, advocacy and education efforts around the world, Kiwanis is not just offering abstract support—but real, measurable results. Not just inspiration—but impact, brightening … and saving … the lives of millions of children over the decades,” Lake said. 

Noted Erickson, The Eliminate Project and the IDD program only scratch the surface of health matters tackled by UNICEF every day in remote areas of the world, all to make sure children and reach their full potential. 

“UNICEF connects people and resources to create protective environments for children,” she said. 


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