2014 Academic Summit – Can Story Telling Save a Life?

At Edelman’s 2014 Academic Summit, Caryl Stern, president & CEO, US Fund for UNICEF, shared how telling stories has helped the organization grow. Her topic was “Can Story Telling Save a Life?”

She wanted to tell the stories of the children she was working with. She didn’t want to give any general statements, she would rather dive deeper into the children’s life. Stern went to Africa in 2007 and her job was to weigh babies. There was a woman she spoke to that had just given birth. Stern asked her “Is this your baby?” in which the woman responded that it was the first one that had lived. She was very lucky that her baby had lived because of the poor conditions that the clinic had. The woman was also HIV positive, which explained why two other babies died from complications because of that illness. She would also have to walk four hours each way with her baby on her back to the clinic because that’s the only way her baby would survive. This is when something clicked for Stern. These people work so hard, and children are dying because of this disease.

The campaign “I Believe in Zero” was created. Thousands of children were dying and that number should be zero. Stern really believes that the number zero is possible. Her story and her experiences in Africa is what motivates her. This motivation came from the story of the woman who lost her two other babies. I love this story because she is truly intrinsically motivated to work towards the number zero every day.

I have not had the experience to travel overseas or experience anything remotely close to that situation, but I know if I did, I would have the same motivation as Stern. Also, I hope to work for a business who has a great story and wants to help others. I know UNICEF is a great resource and helps many. I hope to have a story to share someday.

To answer Stern’s question, I do believe story telling can save a life. Do you think story telling can save a life? Take a look at her presentation here.

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