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UN launches campaign on 'What It Takes' to save lives

12 Feb 2020


Credit: UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis 

For some, being unbending, unreasonable and unrelenting can be viewed as negative qualities. But in the eyes of Michael, a teenager whose mother, Claudine Joseph, works as a UN humanitarian in Chad, those descriptions are actually what he admires most about her, reflecting her resolve and determination to drive real change on the ground.

Michael and Claudine are the protagonists of a new film that showcases the impact and reach of the UN response to the growing humanitarian needs worldwide – and the determination and passion of the people who make it happen. 

The film is part of ‘What It Takes’, a global campaign being launched ahead of Valentine’s Day that compels audiences to understand the hard work, struggles and hardships – but also the joy, hope and humanity – in effectively delivering the UN humanitarian response. 


Claudine is among the thousands of humanitarians who work in the world’s most difficult and deadly settings, taking daily risks while spending months away from home. Through her story, the campaign hopes to leave a lasting impression of the work the UN does every day while aiming to help 109 million of the world’s most vulnerable people across the globe. 

Claudine’s job requires that she spend long hours to help the most vulnerable people in Chad, sacrificing months away from her son. To maintain his care intact, Claudine sends Michael to live with relatives in New York City during the school year, while she works on the front lines in Baga Sola, a restive area of Chad.  

The film opens with images of Michael, revealing snippets of his mother’s demands on his daily life and lamenting her absence from home. These images are interspersed with glimpses of Claudine in Chad, waking up early to go to work in the field, and providing support to a hospital, warehouse and people in need.   

“Always up in everyone’s business” and “she’s the most stubborn person I know,” Michael says in the voice-overs to the images. But at the end of the film, he concedes: “And that’s why I couldn’t be more proud.”

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More material is available on the Trello board.