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UNICEF Week’s last event: Coffeehouse at Gerts. (L-A Benoit / McGill Tribune)

Campus Spotlight: UNICEF

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McGill’s chapter of UNICEF has grown into a very different organization today from its conception in 2001. UNICEF McGill has changed radically over the past two years, growing in structural capacity, team spirit, support, and attendance from students. Over the past year specifically, UNICEF McGill has evolved from a fundraising charity that mainly hosted low-key events and bake sales to an association that gathers over 80 to 100 members every week. 

UNICEF McGill welcomes all students who are interested in committing themselves to children’s rights and would like to help children around the world get the support they need for survival and healthy development. Co-presidents Irfani Ausri, U3 Physiology, and D’Arcy Williams, U3 Honours International Development Studies, explained what first inspired them to get involved with UNICEF.

“I am a physiology student and would potentially want a career in medicine, and I believe that knowing the social aspects of health care is crucial,” Ausri said. “I found that getting involved with UNICEF McGill enabled me to understand these social aspects.”

Williams shared a similar sentiment.

“I grew up in a family that was heavily involved in UNICEF, and I find that UNICEF is a cause that everyone can rally behind,” Williams said. “I also felt strongly about advocating for children’s rights and felt I was making a meaningful contribution.”

UNICEF McGill’s core aim is to sensitize McGill students to the impoverished circumstances that some children have to grow up in around the world, while also fundraising to tackle worldwide issues related to children’s rights. The association organizes bake sales and other fundraisers such as their “Dare to wear” day, where professors are sponsored by their students to dress up for Halloween; last year, the initiative which generated $6,000. 

UNICEF McGill recently hosted UNICEF Week, which included a mix of advocacy and fundraising events, featuring a club event at Blizzarts on Thursday night called Turn up for humanity, as well as a coffeehouse at Gerts Bar on Monday evening. 

Williams and Ausri are thrilled with the success McGill UNICEF has achieved in the past few years. 

“When we first joined UNICEF McGill [four years ago], the annual goal the chapter was trying to achieve was around $5,000,” Williams said. “Last year, we received $11,000 in donations and last semester, we were able to get $14,000.” 

“What I find the most heart-warming is that we know the money collected is going straight to fixing the problems and isn’t spent on administrative expenses,” Ausri added.

Williams added that one of the most important improvements within the chapter is the growth of the relationships between the community and the ability of the executive team and members to work together effectively. 

“We have the best exec team a president could wish for,” said Williams.

New member Charlotte Cailliarec, U1 Arts, shared a similar sentiment. 

“Even though I am a new member, both the other members and the execs have been very friendly, welcoming, and enthusiastic,” she said. 

UNICEF McGill has kicked off the new year to a strong and united start, with high attendance at its various events during UNICEF Week and a growth in both membership and community.

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