LOS ANGELES — When asked to picture a celebrity traveling to countries rife with poverty and hunger, who comes to mind? Angelina Jolie or possibly Audrey Hepburn? Here are six Celebrity UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors who sustain a lower profile while lifting up children around the world.
- Danny Glover
Actor and producer Danny Glover is well-known for his advocacy and philanthropic efforts in healthcare, education and economic justice. He has supported United Nations campaigns focusing on poverty, disease and economic development in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Glover was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on September 20, 2004.On behalf of UNICEF, Glover has visited orphans and vulnerable children and others in developing countries affected by HIV/AIDS. He also participates in many fundraising and advocacy events for UNICEF in Latin America and the USA.
- David Beckham
Beckham’s support for UNICEF began during his time at the Manchester United Football Club. In November 1999, the team created a ‘United for UNICEF’ partnership with the United Kingdom Committee to promote awareness and raise funding for UNICEF. He and his teammates aided campaigns and fundraising activities to establish education and recreational programs related to football for children around the world.
During a pre-season tour in Thailand with the Manchester team, Beckham visited the UNICEF-supported Kredtrakarn Center, engaging with young victims of exploitation and trafficking. Many of the children were under five years old.
- Jackie Chan – Known for using his celebrity status as a vehicle for humanitarian and public service work, Chan visited Cambodia in April 2004. UNICEF then appointed Chan as a Goodwill Ambassador.
Chan delivers compassion and hope to youth suffering from economic difficulty, HIV or AIDS-related prejudice or landmine wounds, to name a few. In a UNICEF mission to Timor-Leste, Chan engaged with students, out-of-school youth and young street gang to teach them about the unifying force of martial arts.
- Orlando Bloom – UNICEF appointed Bloom a Goodwill Ambassador in October of 2009 in recognition of his commitment to the rights of children around the world.
Bloom began supporting UNICEF in 2007 when he visited schools in the outlying western districts of Kaski and Chitwan, two of the most impoverished regions of Nepal. He addressed the value of education and witnessed the ways in which UNICEF’s water and sanitation programs serve local families. He also toured the Krasnoselsky Center in Moscow, a shelter for children from economically disadvantaged families. In 2008, Bloom visited Sarajevo to observe the condition of children in the country.
- Ricky Martin – Martin first became associated with UNICEF in 1984 as a member of Menudo; the Puerto Rican boy band supported the organization’s work.
As one of the celebrity UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, Martin has promoted UNICEF’s efforts to fight for the rights of children, particularly those affected by human trafficking. Martin appealed to the United Nations in October 2004 for international support in opposing sex tourism. He served as a member of an international panel of humanitarians dedicated to the education and prevention of child trafficking.
- Susan Sarandon – Sarandon devotes much of her time to addressing women’s issues and helping people with HIV/AIDS. Appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in December 1999, she helps raise awareness about UNICEF-supported child development and education programs in emerging countries.
On a mission for UNICEF, Sarandon joined in HIV/AIDS youth advocacy events in the United Republic of Tanzania and met with women and girls who suffered gender discrimination in India.
Fame can be extremely beneficial in certain positions within UNICEF. Celebrities attract widespread attention, so they are in a position to focus the world’s eyes on the needs of children, both in their own countries and abroad.
A celebrity’s association with UNICEF comes about because he or she demonstrates a commitment to improving the lives of the world’s children. Celebrity UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors have a wide range of abilities and achievements, but they all share this commitment.
– Heather Hopkins