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“I can testify to what UNICEF means to children, because I was among those who received food and medical relief right after World War II,” said actress Audrey Hepburn on her appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador in 1989. “I have a long-lasting gratitude and trust for what UNICEF does.”


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Audrey Hepburn was known primarily for her beauty, and secondarily for her films. Few know the extent of the struggle of her early life in Nazi occupied Europe. Born into Dutch nobility, the elegant star of Sabrina, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Funny Face lived a childhood less than idyllic. Emaciated and impoverished, the young Hepburn survived eating tulip bulbs and hiding from brutish Nazi forces. This struggle stayed with her for life, and fueled her passion for reaching out to starving children in the world’s war torn and most economically disadvantaged places.

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 Audrey Hepburn received the highest civilian honor in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 for her dedication to UNICEF. Some of her most important assignments and contributions are as follows:

  • After being appointed a Goodwill Ambassador in 1989, she campaigned tirelessly for the organization and its mission. Giving as many as 15-20 interviews per day over the course of many weeks in the US, Canada, and Europe.
  • Traveled to Ecuador to advocate for and improve the lives of street children.
  • Conducted occupational training programs for women in rural Venezuala.
  • Lead a number of projects to bring clean drinking water to Guatemala and Honduras.
  • Visited and volunteered in child refugee camps in war torn Sudan.
  • Lead implementation of nutrition programs in Vietnam.


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Author Mischaela Elkins

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