by: Beth Kissileff on May 12th, 2014 | Comments Off
I Believe in Zero: Learning from the World’s Children
by Caryl Stern
New York: St Martin’s Press
With so many scandals about money for charity being diverted to the pockets of corrupt CEOs, it is refreshing to listen to a president of a charity who tells a global story about how her Jewish values and family history lead her to work to aid children around the world. Caryl Stern, the President and CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF, has written an interesting and affecting account of her trips to various countries in need of poverty relief and of the real abilities of the citizens in developed countries to make a difference to those in need globally. “Zero” in the title of Stern’s book, refers to UNICEF’s bold aim: ZERO hunger, poverty and disease.
Prior to her work at UNICEF, Stern was the Chief Operating Officer of the Anti-Defamation League. In this book, which reports her experiences in her new job, she recounts what she experiences in each place she visits. In Mozambique, she visits clinics that care for severely malnourished children and those that help people with AIDS. Stern presents facts and statistics – over half of Mozambique’s population lived in poverty in 2007 – along with personal accounts of people she meets whom her organization helps. In this place so far from her Queens home, she seeks out a synagogue where she feels “strangely and unexpectedly at home” although there are only seven Jews remaining in the country, most having fled during the civil war that ended in 1992.