Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day: October 8-14

October 9, 1950

“HYDE PARK, Sunday—On Friday we met in Committee Three both morning and afternoon, when I tried, entirely without success, to explain to the rest of the committee the position of the United States on long-range and continuing activities to help the needs of children throughout the world.

In the case of many countries, these needs have existed for hundreds of years, and will continue to exist for many more years unless the basic economy of those countries can be improved. Many countries now in need of things for their children sympathized with the original establishment of the Children’s Emergency Fund and its operations, even though the fund operated primarily in Europe in countries that had suffered from World War II. The countries of Asia, Africa and South America, though they recognized that conditions for children in European countries were normally far superior to those of children in some other parts of the world, still were able to sympathize with these needs because they, themselves, had existed under these sad conditions for hundreds of years.

Now some countries, including my own, feel that the emergency brought about by World War II has in many countries come to an end. The problem now is how best the U.N. can help the world’s children to obtain more food, better medical care, better education and perhaps better legislation within their own countries for the protection of children in the field of labor. This being the case, the United States has emphasized that, in the establishment of a permanent fund, its main interest today does not lie alone in sending supplies.

Many countries, however, can envision their needs only in terms of supply. For instance, country X needs milk for its children. It thinks only in terms of obtaining so many cases of powdered milk from the United Nations fund. The immediate need clouds the realization that, while it is important to receive that milk this year, it is equally important that a project be set up to help country X produce that milk next year themselves.

Two of the things which my government, through the State Department, is trying to emphasize is that the board of the fund—which will now be the United Nations Children’s Endowment Fund—should have on it the representatives of the specialized agencies which should be called upon to pass on the need and the value of each permanent project undertaken for the future; and that these projects should be aimed at helping a country to produce its own supplies.”

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