The Ethiopian Children's Appeal, founded by Ms. Butler in 2001, provides school supplies and nutritional provisions to children in Sodore, Ethiopia. Under Ms. Butler's stewardship, the project has built eight classrooms and two teachers' quarters, has refurbished the local health clinic, has delivered clean water and solar power to local families, and has established an organic farm that is run by students.
The project also helps to support 16 HIV/AIDS orphans who live in a home environment in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
Jo Butler, Deputy Director, Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes
Ms. Butler began the Ethiopian Children's Appeal when she worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and was based in Addis Ababa. UNCTAD staff participated in the awards ceremony, which was chaired by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who presided via videolink.
"I have been admiring and supporting the Ethiopian Children's Appeal project for several years now, even before joining UNCTAD," said UNCTAD Deputy Secretary-General Petko Draganov at the ceremony. "And so, it is, for me, one of those truly happy moments in life when you see someone's hard work, human solidarity and tireless commitment being recognized and rewarded."
"For the Ethiopian Children's Appeal, myself, and the scores of UN colleagues who have helped me over the last 12 years, both at UNECA and at UNCTAD, it indicates that while our day jobs at these organizations are important and have impact, we can also make a difference by touching lives far beyond our workplace," Ms. Butler said.
"Many colleagues have followed my lead and have replicated this kind of project in their own countries."
"My first encounter with the rural schoolchildren was very emotional yet joyful, and compelled me to remain committed for the last 12 years to helping them despite my hectic work responsibilities and personal life. I was able to sustain this work owing to the interest and support I received from so many UN colleagues, friends and family. It has been truly a collaborative effort."
Two of the HIV/AIDS orphans helped by the Ethiopian Children's Appeal now attend university, one in Canada.
New projects being run as part of the Appeal include vocational training for graduating students, chicken farms to be managed by the mothers of the students, and delivery of clean cooking stoves. In addition, the Appeal has set up a charity store at Etsy.com/shop/schoolery. All proceeds from sales on the website go to help rural schoolchildren in Sodore.