Pretoria – The UN in South Africa’s celebrations of UN Day 2013 reached a record number of people this year. Beginning with the UN4U educational outreach from 14-18 October 2013, the UN in South Africa was welcomed into over 20 schools in Gauteng and North West Province, reaching a record 16,000 learners, more than double compared to the previous year.
UN staff, including senior UN officials, from 11 different UN agencies supported the initiative by presenting on issues such as refugees, drugs and crime, migration and health, labour and food security to assemblies of up to 2,000 learners. The programme was also supported by Ms. Hlubi Mboya, well-known South African actress and WFP National Ambassador Against Hunger.
Showing its commitment to South Africa’s youth, UNIC Pretoria, in collaboration with the UN Communications Group, co-organized two career evenings, one with the UN Association of South Africa – University of Pretoria Chapter, at the University of Pretoria on 24 October 2013, and again on 28 October 2013. Four UN staff members, including the Director of the International Labour Organization and the Senior Policy and Strategy Advisor for UNAIDS spoke about their experiences working for the UN and gave some practical career advice to the students. The event was attended by over 200 students from different universities and education institutions on each evening.
Reaching out the general public, the UN in South Africa took part in the annual Diplomatic Fair on 26 October 2013 at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The exhibition stand was very well attended, and showcased information materials about United Nations activities, an interactive quiz on the United Nations, and a drawing corner for children. Over 70 embassies and international organizations participated in the Fair, drawing hundreds of people throughout the day.
For UN staff, UN Day was commemorated with a formal ceremony on 24 October, followed by the launch of the rooftop canteen at the UN House with over 150 current and former staff and guests in attendance. Highlights included a talk by a high school Model UN student; a presentation on nutrition by a UNICEF colleague; a fun quiz on the UN as well as a live music performance by a refugee band. A family sports day was also organised where staff members including their family, could participate in various sports activities, including football/soccer and volley ball.