HPC Fellow: Mich Rakotomalala, Operation Smile, Madagascar

Mich Rakotomalala is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with Operation Smile in Madagascar. Her fellowship consists of work as a program coordinator in charge of cleft lip and cleft palate international surgical missions and  trainings in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) for in-country volunteers. In this post, Mich provides a glimpse of the type of hazards faced by staff in the field that can impact their operations and the communities they serve.

Plague Hits Madagascar Before Operation Smile Medical Mission
by Mich Rakotomalala

Madagascar, my country, is a large island in the Indian Ocean located at the east coast of southern Africa. Due to the political and economic environment in August 2017, it was expected that a plague epidemic would spread at a catastrophic speed, and it would be difficult for the government to control the disease in the beginning. High rates of illiteracy and promiscuity within the population of the capital, Antananarivo, were major factors in the lack of awareness on the disease and the way it would spread.

In fact, the plague is a disease, an epidemic which does not belong to yesterday but is still found today, mostly in poor countries. As is the case in Madagascar, the plague is endemic to the central high plateau, manifesting every year as a seasonal upsurge during the rainy season. Between mid-August and April there is bubonic plague (transmitted by sting of a flea) and so-called pulmonary plague, which is the most serious, transmitted through contact with simple saliva from a distance of less than two meters. It is obvious to see why the disease would affect mainly the population of the big city of Madagascar. The plague outbreak that began in August 2017 killed 202 people, and 2,384 cases were reported all over the country. The Malagasy capital was the most affected, with more than 400 cases, as well as Tamatave on the east coast of the country.

As a program coordinator based in Antananarivo, I experienced how the August 2017 Plague affected Operation Smile Madagascar in many ways. We had scheduled our International Mission for November 2017 in Tamatave Hospital, but all of a sudden everything had to be postponed. CHU Analakininina (Tamatave Hospital), which was Operation Smile’s local mission site, admitted several patients and gave them the care they needed. A few doctors and nurses from the hospital became infected and were quarantined and given the same treatment as all patients. At this time, the Ministry Of Health issued a directive that everyone must wear a mouth cover once they go out of their homes. Schools were even closed for three weeks, and all big meetings and shows were canceled. By that point, people were scared to go out; children could not even play outside.

As you might not know, Operation Smile offers free surgery for cleft lip/palate patients. In Madagascar, we do annual registration by running an awareness campaign all over the country and calling patients on the phone. Due to the plague epidemic, the mission scheduled for November had to be postponed, and we needed to call the patients again to notify them of the change.

In the beginning of November our team went down to Tamatave and reached out to patients at the hospital who couldn’t be reached by phone and still thought the mission was happening. We had to explain to them that the mission was being postponed, and why. Many patients who live far from the big cities wouldn’t know what plague is exactly about. You can imagine their reaction to this news, how sad these parents were, when we informed them that their kid unfortunately wouldn’t get surgery this time, and that they would have to wait for the next mission in 2018.

We had to explain to them about the risk of exposing a patient or a team member to the plague, who could then infect the rest of the team. It was very difficult for them to understand the situation. “Can you promise us that my son will get surgery next year? We have been away from our village hoping that when we go back people will look at him differently,” said Rayan’s mother. The mother of Maimona, a girl born with a cleft lip, cried. “Oh my God, I am going back home with my kid not healed yet. People will keep judging us by saying the curse our family got is not gone yet.” These were the kinds of questions and reactions we heard from everyone, and we really took the time to counsel each parent present.

You should know that most of those patients come from a very rural area, from villages far from the city. Sometimes they have to walk for hours to reach their home, passing red dirt roads or crossing rivers. But it’s worth it. Patients with a cleft lip or palate here in Madagascar are always looked at differently—sometimes people who meet them on the road get really scared or think that it’s a curse on the family.

You can imagine the hope these families have in mind while going to the hospital, thinking that the time has finally come for their child to be healed. As I put myself in their shoes, I completely understand the feeling that they cannot wait for that moment when their kid comes out from the operating room with that very new smile, a moment that they will never forget. So many parents wait for years for that moment. Looking up, then closing her eyes with tears, Maimona’s mother continued to pray for her daughter’s life to change forever.

Surveillance and treatment of patients suspected of plague continued, then by end of November, the Malagasy authorities managed to put an end to the plague epidemic which was raging Madagascar.

Throughout this period of the plague, I did not do much, could not heal any plague patient, but my Hilton Prize Coalition fellowship with Operation Smile gave me the opportunity to counsel families, guiding them and sharing their feelings, which I believe was just as important. I cannot wait to see the new smile these children will get when the mission reinstates next April.

(All photos courtesy of Operation Smile)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Coalition Member Spotlight: Tostan

February 6 is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) designated by the United Nations to bring awareness to the dangers of FGM and “promote the sanctity of a woman's autonomy over her body and health.” The World Health Organization estimates that more than 200 million women and girls alive today have been subjected to FGM.  On this day, the Hilton Prize Coalition shines a spotlight on member Tostan, a global organization contributing to the abandonment of FGM as a component of its work to empower rural communities with sustainable development and human rights based education.

“Tostan” means “breakthrough” in the Senegalese language of Wolof. Awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2007, the organization was founded in 1991 by Molly Melching, who had already spent more than a decade living and working in Senegal. Tostan’s flagship offering is the Community Empowerment Program, a three-year, human rights-based educational program offered in local languages that teaches literacy as well as values-deliberation and collective action for community led development. By empowering communities to lead their own development, Tostan has catalyzed a grassroots movement in West Africa for the promotion of human rights and the abandonment of harmful practices, including female genital cutting and child marriage. Tostan’s mission is to empower African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights, and to ensure every person—woman, man, girl, and boy—is able to live a life of dignity. As a result of this respectful, holistic approach, more than 20,000 women have been selected into leadership positions in their communities. More than 4.8 million people live in more than 8000 communities that have publicly declared an end to female genital cutting and child marriage.

Tostan’s unique approach to addressing deeply entrenched social norms and its method of organized diffusion relies on allying with religious leaders and former ritual cutters to speak out publicly about harmful practices and the need to respect the human right to health. The impact has been captured in this video, in which local imam Demba Dwara and cutter Oureye Sall share about their work helping to build the Tostan movement of dignity for all.

Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program is innovative in the following ways. First, it recognizes participants as the agents and architects of community change. Next, it provides a proven strategy for addressing deeply entrenched social norms. It strengthens community members dignity and individual and collective agency. It teaches, reinforces and formalizes leadership and governance skills through Community Management Committees, which are comprised of 17 people (nine of which are women), who often continue managing community issues following the formal program.

The Tostan Training Center, which was launched in 2015, shares Tostan’s model for replicability and regional and global systems change. Since opening to external trainings in March 2015, the Tostan Training Center has served more than 210 participants, representing 81 organizations from 34 countries, including 59 religious leaders. The Tostan Training Center supports grassroots movement builders and activists from which civil society leaders have been trained in Tostan's content, participatory methodology, human rights approach and movement-building strategies.

By providing high-quality human rights based education and dignity-enhancing leadership skills that advance women and girls and whole communities, Tostan has supported the original and new leaders of the Breakthrough Generation, as well as their historic and brave decisions. This recent video, New Leaders of the Breakthrough Generation, showcases how they are bravely shaping the communities of the future.

(Photos courtesy of Tostan)

Op-Ed: From Big Data to Humanitarian In The Loop Algorithms

This article was written by Miguel Luengo Oroz, Chief Data Scientist at United Nations Global Pulse, an innovation initiative of the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary General with a mission to harness Big Data and Artificial Intelligence safely and responsibly as a public good. Here, Luengo Oroz describes an ongoing project which focuses on understanding how social media data can inform the perceptions of host communities on refugees and migrants fleeing conflict-affected areas across international borders. This op-ed was initially published in the UNHCR Year in Review 2017. Views are the author's own.

From Big Data to Humanitarian 'In-The-Loop' Algorithms
By Miguel Luengo Oroz

The Data Revolution is no longer a new topic but a reality trying to catch up with the expectations it has generated. The private sector is investing billions in new start-ups and technology companies that can ingest the vast amounts of data generated by citizens and which use artificial intelligence algorithms to predict when, how and what people are more likely to buy. In contrast, humanitarian organisations today have just begun exploiting the potential of big data to improve decision-making. Measuring the impact of these data-driven decisions will help make the case for further investment in big data innovations. Once humanitarian practitioners understand the return on investment of big data innovations, we can start measuring the costs (financial and human) of not using these data, and we can begin to streamline scaling and adoption mechanisms.

One of the factors contributing to the slow institutional uptake of big data and analytics within the humanitarian sector is a lack of knowledge and capacity to apply these instruments in operational settings. In general, humanitarian and data experts do not speak the same language; they do not share a common vocabulary or context, and often cannot align their goals. This challenge is not a new one. And for me has become a sort of “déjà vu.” Fifteen years ago I started working in development biology, where AI and data experts were helping to “revolutionise” the field the same way data scientists are trying to impact sustainable and humanitarian efforts today. New microscopes taking high-resolution images of tissues and organs were viewed the same way satellite imaging showing the impact and recovery from natural disaster is viewed today. Similarly, the same way that fluorescent markers allowed tracking of millions of cells migrating in the body, today we can track the movements of people fleeing conflict using aggregated mobile phone data. It took years for the field to mature while a new generation of researchers, technicians and biologists mutated into multidisciplinary profiles. This is also the case with humanitarian organisations that need to create hybrid profiles, i.e. data translators who can both understand the operational humanitarian contexts and have data intuition. They know what can and cannot be done with data and how to interpret and visualise data and algorithms to provide information for real impact.

At the beginning of this year, UN Global Pulse worked with UNHCR on a project to use realtime information on human perceptions to identify opportunities that can inform the organisation’s efforts on the ground, and more largely, its humanitarian strategy. The project combined UNHCR’s expertise in the field of humanitarian action, and the years of innovation work leveraging big data for social good from UN Global Pulse, to understand how social media data can inform the perceptions of host communities on refugees and migrants fleeing conflict-affected areas across international borders.

Using new data for insights into humanitarian contexts is a multifold process. Before we can test any innovation project in an ongoing emergency, we need to select a retrospective realistic scenario, or a simulation, to understand the value of the data. This is exactly what we did together with UNHCR, where we explored the viability and validity of Twitter data in the Europe Refugee Emergency crisis. Our goal was to see how we can bring more data-driven evidence into decision-making processes and advocacy efforts, particularly to help UNHCR develop an institutional policy against xenophobia, discrimination and racism towards migrants and refugees. For that purpose, we partnered with Crimson Hexagon, an analytics tool provider, and used their tools to access and analyse social media posts. The findings of the exploration can be accessed in the paper “Social Media and Forced Displacement: Big Data Analytics & Machine Learning.” The project has now entered a second phase, in which the aim is to create a real-time situation awareness tool. It will require finding the right balance to introduce a new approach into existing workflows and operations, respecting the unique strains on staff and responders during an emergency. The cocreation of prototypes with users on the ground is key to generating useful tools. This is why identifying the right partner, with the right complementary skills, is important.

Once you have created the right team and identified the right questions, the next step is data access and analysis. From UN Global Pulse’s experience working with many sources of data from social media, to radio feeds, to mobile surveys, to vessel tracks, postal traffic and so on, we have learned that clear and proven algorithms, and analysis methodologies are crucial to distilling insights from raw data. There is no silver bullet; and recent hype oversimplifies what can and cannot be done with big data and artificial intelligence. Data characteristics including sampling, demographics, completeness or inherent bias have different properties, hence analysis must always be put into context sooner rather than later.

When talking about machine learning and the new neural network architectures that have revolutionised AI in the past few years - aka deep learning- it is important to remember that the machine will be as biased as the data that is used to train it. Though current real-world applications are mostly limited to internet business, digital marketing, playing board games or self-driving cars, there is a wealth of opportunities for AI methods to perform tasks where certain patterns are repeated. One of the critical issues is the need for ethical principles that can govern how artificial intelligence methods are developed and used- and how and to which extent AI should be regulated. The use of autonomous weapons or viruses targeted to individuals with a particular trait in their DNA are clear examples of data driven threats. We also need to develop privacy protection principles on the use of data and agree on frameworks for the way in which these data are processed by algorithms. The principles of responsibility, explainability, accuracy, auditability, and fairness can guide how algorithms and AI programmes work. And although one size won’t fit all, especially in humanitarian situations, we can ask what expectations we should have in critical humanitarian scenarios where the well-being of vulnerable populations is at stake. Certainly, the benefits will depend on the nature of the crisis - a medical emergency is not the same as a natural disaster or a conflict-affected area - as will the potential risks and harms. If in certain situations the harm comes from not using the available data, in others, insights distilled from these data could be used to target populations and cause more damage than good.

So what will the future of big data analysis and AI bring for the humanitarian field? In my view, we should imagine a future where we have understood how to augment (and not replace) the human condition by leveraging technology. Data-driven benefits can certainly help reduce inequality. This will require a new research agenda where scientists and technology companies work to solve problems that apply to a wider range of social groups and that include the 17 global goals we have vowed to achieve by 2030. To serve humanitarian practitioners, the current deep learning revolution should pay increased attention to methodologies that can work in data-scarce environments, that can learn quickly with few examples and in unknown crisis scenarios, and that are able to work with incomplete or missing data (eg. “one-shot-learning”).

In humanitarian contexts, we could consider an extension of the “society-in-the-loop” algorithm concept - embedding the general will into an algorithmic social contract-, where both humanitarian responders and affected populations understand and oversee algorithmic decision-making that affect them. Before 2030, technology should allow us to know everything from everyone to ensure no one is left behind. For example, there will be nanosatellites imaging every corner of the earth allowing us to generate almost immediate insights into humanitarian crises. Progress will just depend on our actions and political will. What I also foresee is a not too distant future where data and AI can be used to empower citizens and affected communities in humanitarian crises. The digital revolution can help refugees protect their rights and their identities and even create jobs. Imagine a future where refugees could be granted digital asylum in other countries for which they can do digital work and contribute to the growth of that economy. From both public and private sector perspectives, we are living a unique moment in history with regards to shaping how algorithms and AI will impact society. What we need to make sure is that the data we produce is ultimately used to benefit all of us.

Read the UNHCR Year in Review 2017 at: http://www.unhcr.org/innovation/year-review-2017/.

(Photo courtesy of UN Global Pulse)

5 Tips for a Successful Internship Program

This article on Devex features Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program with insights from program supervisors Katharine Kreis at PATH and Colleen O'Holleran at Landesa

5 Tips for a Successful Internship Program
By Emma Smith

Internships are almost a right of passage for anyone starting out their career in global development, and these experiences should be beneficial for all parties involved. For the employer, it is an opportunity to nurture emerging talent and gain new perspectives while benefiting from additional support for their teams and projects. For the intern, it is an opportunity to explore areas of interests, develop skills, gain exposure to different aspects of development work, and learn from professionals experienced in the sector.

An internship that is of real value to both the employer and the intern doesn’t just happen, however. Here, staff from Landesa and PATH, having both recently hosted young professionals as part of the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows program, share their tips for hosting an intern. Keep reading to find out their tips for success.

Define the role.
The intern’s role should be clearly defined and ideally involve them working on a long-term project where they can see how this is contributing to the overall mission of the organization. Katharine Kreis, head of the nutrition innovation team at PATH says she is not interested in bringing people in to “file and organize,” or in just finding things for them to do as they go. “This doesn’t make for the best experience for the intern,” she adds. Think about the new skills that a recent graduate or early-career professional could bring to your team, and plan for them to take ownership of meaningful and challenging projects that utilize these. Kreis says it is important to have a “very tight scope of work” and be clear how that person’s skill set fits that scope.

Read the full article at Devex.com

 

(Photo: Interns at International Atomic Energy Agency. Photo by: Dean Calma / IAEA / CC BY-SA)

Devex Features the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program

The Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program is the focus of this article originally published in Devex.

How the Hilton Prize Coalition Is Building Future Humanitarian Leaders
By Emma Smith

Building the next generation of humanitarian leaders is a top priority for the Hilton Prize Coalition. The coalition, an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, came about very “organically” as several of the winning organizations started looking for ways they could work together for collective impact, says Samantha Ducey, director of partner solutions at Global Impact, the organization that supports and serves as the Secretariat for the Coalition.

From this, its three signature programs evolved: the Fellows program, the Collaborative Models program, and the Storytelling program, which were established with the aim of leveraging the resources, talents, and expertise of each of its members. “The role of the coalition and the three programs is to create an environment where they can work together,” says Ducey, and “where each coalition member can identify what they can contribute and what they can learn and gain from one another.”

Now approaching its third year, the coalition’s Fellows program works with member organizations to identify and develop the sector’s future leaders. Here’s how the coalition is helping these organizations invest in new skillsets and create opportunities for early-career professionals, while fostering partnerships in the sector.

Read the full article at Devex.com.

 

Operation Smile's Founders Reflect on How Life Is a Contact Sport

For inspiration in the new year, it helps to remember that "sometimes the strongest bonds of friendship get forged in the service of others." In this clip from the Hilton Prize Coalition's "Leading Thoughts" Storytelling Program series, Kathleen Magee and Bill Magee, co-founders of Operation Smile, describe how a whole new model of emergency response emerged out of a simple question from fellow Coalition member Partners in Health, with whom they had been partnering in Haiti when the devastating earthquake of 2010 hit.

WATCH THE VIDEO

Leading Thoughts: Recording the Voice of the Coalition

In this post, director of the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program, Steve Connors, shares how the Leading Thoughts video clip series developed as a way to demonstrate the connection between the on-the-ground work of the Coalition's members, each of whom is a Hilton Humanitarian Prize-winning organization, with the visions and insights of their respective leaders.

Leading Thoughts: Recording the Voice of the Coalition
By Steve Connors

In the summer of 2016, the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program released its pilot production, a short film documenting the work of six Hilton Humanitarian Prize Laureates involved in the relief effort following Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake. On Shifting Ground weaves together a chorus of voices from these Coalition member organizations to tell a ground-level story of the experiences, challenges and triumphs faced in the aftermath of the disaster.

One of the Storytelling Program’s main goals has been to amplify the voices of the staff working directly with the communities. So to put together this film, we enlisted the help of the staff to create the production crew and conducted one-on-one interviews with members of the staff from all six organizations. The process of making this film revealed that the Coalition organizations did not have much awareness about each other’s story; in many instances, the production itself helped these organizations to learn about each other and identify ways to collaborate.

From this experience, it became clear that the Storytelling Program could serve as a vehicle for these organizations to create connections on several levels. The production had necessitated frequent communications between the participating organizations across all levels of the organizations themselves, involving staff from in-country offices to executives at headquarters. The Coalition learned that not only would sharing stories between organizations inform and inspire them to partner with each other on overlapping issues, but also, this program could provide a way to demonstrate the connections that exist between the daily, on-the-ground work with the visions of the organizations’ remarkable leaders.

My background is in journalism, and its exploration of facts and truths. I carried that methodology through in the creation of the series of executive-level interviews that came to be called "Leading Thoughts," and to create a Story Wall on which to host the content.  Beginning with Jeff Meer, the Executive Director of Handicap International US, I have so far conducted 12 of these interviews.

My approach eschews the standard Q&A technique in favor of a strongly conversational approach that leads away from formal, prepared statements and towards a deeper, more meaningful dialogue.  This also allows us to understand the personality of the leader and what he or she uniquely brings to the organization. When taken as a whole, Leading Thoughts also allows us access to the collective value of the Coalition and its potential. We covered many themes in these interviews, such as the relationship between collaborative programs and fundraising, the personal transformations of these leaders through the experience of their work, the challenges they face and work to overcome, and perhaps most important of all, their respective visions for the future of global health and development.

Throughout the series, we uncover the complexity of issues that are being addressed and the creativity of the search for solutions.  Leading Thoughts is meant to contribute to an internal dialogue from which important collaborative programs can emerge, connecting the local and headquarter staff in a new way and providing an opportunity for audiences beyond the Coalition to learn directly from these top-level leaders. The basis for a collaborative program itself, storytelling is a mechanism for collaboration, with each story an example of the future of collective impact in the development community.

What has continued to impress me about these leaders during our conversations is their overall mastery of their subject, the desire to share the hard-won lessons of experience, and the passion with which they pursue excellence. As we continue to conduct the Leading Thoughts interviews, I look forward to being reminded, yet again, of the vocational energy with which these remarkable people are creating a world in which those they serve can live with dignity.

(Photo: Steve Connors and HPC Fellow Amul Thapa preparing for an interview in Nepal)

Leading Thoughts

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

2017 HPC Fellow: Joshua Tobing, SOS Children's Villages

Joshua Tobing completed a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship at the US headquarters of SOS Children’s Villages, the largest NGO in the world dedicated to the care of orphaned and abandoned children. He channeled his strong passion for ethics and responsibility in fundraising to serve on the marketing and communications team, where he was involved with the research and implementation of impactful communication strategies for SOS’s large network of supporters. Joshua studied Integrated Marketing Communications, English Literature, and Prelaw at Pacific Union College in Napa, CA. In this post, Joshua reflects on the widespread effects on communities from investment into supports for children.

Beyond the Warm Glow: A Global Perspective on Charitable Giving
by Joshua Tobing

With the SOS team (HPC Fellow Alum Sarah Baker, Bryan Colombo, Josh Tobing, Kirsten Feyling)

In charity fundraising, we frequently think in terms of the “warm glow” feeling that drives many donors to support causes and organizations. In addition to this, it should come as no surprise that personal philanthropy comes in cycles – oftentimes with surges triggered by outside events.

I myself experienced this trigger when photographs of a three-year-old Syrian boy’s body on the shores of Greece aired on international media. I was not alone in this – in the 24 hours after those images went public, organizations working with Syrian refugees saw massive surges in web traffic and funding.

But what happens after that moment is gone? What happens after our “warm glow” wears off? As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with SOS Children’s Villages – the largest NGO in the world dedicated to the care of vulnerable children – these were exactly the questions I sought to answer with the organization every day.

If the global events of recent years have taught us anything, they have taught us about the world’s delicate interconnectivity. Instability in a faraway land never just stays in that faraway land.

An image from the report by SOS, "The Care Effect: Why No Child Should Grow Up Alone"

A recently released report from SOS Children’s Villages International, “The Care Effect: Why No Child Should Grow Up Alone,” shows exactly how the support of developing communities strengthens the world we all live in. Globally, 220 million children are at risk of growing up without parental care – that’s one in ten – and that’s bad news for all of us. This video illustrates the issue well.

My time at SOS showed me how, when children grow up without proper care and education, not only do they face an elevated risk for experiencing violence, abuse, and trafficking, they are effectively barred from contributing their true talents and potential to their communities and to society. As the harmful effects of child poverty grow exponentially with each generation, their impact on our own lives grows as well.

Through my experience working with SOS Children’s Villages as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I learned that when you invest in the care of children through long-term support for community development, youth education and employability, youth identity development, and family strengthening programs, you are providing a much-needed intervention in the painful cycle of global poverty. The effects of donor support, beyond the “warm glow,” are real and lasting, strengthening the global economy and reducing instability, conflict, and potential for terrorism.

(Photos courtesy of SOS)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Hilton Prize Coalition Highlights of 2017

Happy New Year to all on behalf of the Hilton Prize Coalition. As Coalition members continue to innovate ways to alleviate suffering and build resilient communities, 2018 is already shaping up to be a transformative year for humanitarian professionals across the world. Now, more than ever, in the face of global crises, it is critical for organizations across the international community to collaborate effectively, adapt to new circumstances and face changing needs. Brought together by the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize and united under a shared spirit of collaboration and innovation, the 22 members of the Hilton Prize Coalition are uniquely positioned to provide insights from their collective experience, able to build on the events and initiatives of the past year. Below are some highlights of the Coalition's work in 2017, with a glimpse of things to come.

Fellows Program

Katharine Kreis with Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow Catherine May

By the end of its second year, the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program had engaged 25 Fellows, exceeding its goal of 20. The participation of Coalition members in the selection and rigorous training of these HPC Fellows ensured a high-performing cohort in 2017, with eight nationalities represented and placements in 16 cities around the world. Fellows developed expertise in topics that spanned the international development and humanitarian sectors, with several Fellows offered positions after completing their fellowships with the host organizations. Read more here.

While blog posts by Fellows offer reflections on the training and experiences these future leaders receive through the Program, the Coalition in 2017 shared reflections on the program from the perspective of organizations that have been hosting these emerging leaders. This post by Katharine Kreis, the director of strategic initiatives and the lead of nutrition innovation at PATHoriginally appeared in the Philanthropy News Digest in December.

Collaborative Models Program

Through the Collaborative Models Program, the Coalition implemented several projects involving various combinations of Coalition member organizations and other community partners. A few are described below.

  • In March, Operation Smile hosted training sessions in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) and Help Age International at Operation Smile’s Roma Downey Center in Amman, Jordan. Overall, a total of 30 AHA certifications – 29 Basic Life Support (BLS) Provider certifications and one BLS Instructor re-certification – were issued by Egypt-based AHA instructors. Read about it here.
  • In June, Landesa and BRAC released a collaborative issue brief, “Land Tenure as a Critical Consideration for Climate Change-Related Displacement in Slow-Onset Disaster Zones.” Through this brief, the Coalition seeks to bring attention to the critical issues of climate change, refugees, and land tenure rights. Read the brief here. To coincide with World Environment Day, Jennifer Duncan, Sr. Attorney and Land Tenure Specialist (Landesa), and Ashley Toombs, External Affairs Manager (BRAC), wrote an op-ed for Devex that highlights recommendations from the issue brief on climate change-related displacement and slow-onset disaster zones.
  • Coalition members Covenant House International and the IRCT (the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims) have been working together to develop a comprehensive set of materials on issues related to trauma informed care. These materials will be used for training and as reference for healthcare workers and specialists to better understand the effects of trauma and how to approach traumatized youth. The project team plans to roll out a co-authored background paper, “Cultivating Resilience,” and a training package through the Coalition shortly. In the meantime, reflections on the process have been shared throughout the project, first through a blog post by youth psychologist Gabriela Monroy and then through a November 2017 article in the Philanthropy Journal.

Storytelling Program - "Refuge" & "Leading Thoughts" Series

Syrian children from a nearby refugee camp in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley sit patiently as their mothers plant seeds in a local farmer’s field.

Following the release of the Coalition's pilot production, Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program Director, Steve Connors, traveled through Lebanon and Serbia to connect with several Coalition member organizations serving the most vulnerable communities among the millions of displaced men, women and children seeking refuge in places of safety. The resulting stories are the basis of the next Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling project, entitled "Refuge," a series of film clips that will provide a glimpse of what humanitarian work looks like today. Presented as vignettes, the films focus on a few days in the life of staff at four Laureate organizations working in the region: SOS Children’s Villages, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), HelpAge International and Handicap International. The first vignette was previewed at the Hilton Prize Coalition Annual Meeting in October, and will be released publicly in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Coalition's short documentary film, "On Shifting Ground," remains in circulation across the international community, promoting dialogue about effective disaster preparation, while the Coalition continues to share insights from Laureate organizations through its "Leading Thoughts" video series, in which leaders of the organizations featured share what they’ve learned, both in their current roles and from their experiences in the field. Videos are posted on the Story Wall as they become available.

The Coalition will continue to share updates on the initiatives underway through these Signature programs, share more insights from across the international community, and resurface favorite posts that have resonated with readers in the past. Stay tuned.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

2017 HPC Fellow: Ana Rabogliatti, Operation Smile

As a 2017 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, Ana Rabogliatti was immersed in many facets of global public health programming through her placement with Coalition member Operation Smile, an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. Ana is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Global Studies at the University of Virginia, with a focus on Environmental Sustainability. In this post, Ana reflects on her experience engaging with diverse groups of students, donors and stakeholders while working on Operation Smile's annual International Student Leadership Conference and other important projects.

Opening the Doors for Change
by Ana Rabogliatti

As a university student selected to serve as the 2017 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow at Operation Smile, I learned immediately that the organization has a miraculous effect on all who step foot through their doors. The collective vision to change lives captures people who’ve often had no prior experience working inside a global non-governmental organization, like me, and fold them organically into the vision. Operation Smile is all about helping children, but they instill knowledge, action and passion for continued impact all the way around. The mission of Operation Smile is deep and boundless. I’ve been changed, and am honored by the challenge and responsibility to embrace this experience as the beginning of a journey.

Operation Smile has been making a global impact through research, surgical missions, and medical education for the past 35 years. When I walked through the front door on my first day, I was welcomed into the complexities of programming that Co-Founder Kathy Magee and her team tackle on a daily basis, playing a supporting role to a variety of simultaneous projects.

Most of my focus was devoted to a Student Program “Until We Heal” campaign that culminated in Operation Smile’s annual International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC), this year held in Rome, Italy for almost 700 high school students, university students, chaperones and staff from 35 countries. Joining together to celebrate the accomplishments and progress of student-driven initiatives throughout the year, these select student leaders led forums, rallied regional clubs, engaged in problem-solving, learned more about safe surgery and global health, practiced CPR, and welcomed global speakers.

Students hold up their signed "Until We Heal" pledges (Photo: Operation Smile)

Mentoring came from motivational speakers like Santo Versace, Operation Smile Italy board member and head of Versace house of fashion; Michelle Poler and her “100 Days Without Fear” story; Ferrari race car driver, Michela Cerruti; and representatives from the United Nations and Global Fund who were once Operation Smile student volunteers themselves. The highlight of the conference – and one of my biggest responsibilities – was to help produce a musical concert promoting the Until We Heal pledge that Operation Smile “will not stop until we heal every child with a cleft.” As production assistant, I managed the venue, helped with team communication and messaging, coordinated performers and speakers, and assisted with all logistics related to sound, lighting, cues, and run of show. The celebration was a call to action for all students to get involved and make positive change in the world. Illustrating Kathy’s view that “the youth are filled with optimism,” please see the 3-minute highlight video of Operation Smile’s ISLC.

I was also a part of a large project that allowed me to increase my proficiency in research, global health, study techniques and what it takes to actually “do” research. Operation Smile and its academic partners at the University of Southern California (USC) and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) conduct the International Family Study, which is research Operation Smile initiated to identify the genetic and environmental risk factors related to cleft deformities. The research team has collected more than 12,000 individual DNA samples from 9 countries during Operation Smile missions so far. Research indicates potential risk factors such as smoking and vitamin deficiencies contribute. With increased funding and more samples, they will soon be able to process entire genomes of genetic information, which will eventually yield more comprehensive results and preventive programs.

Another area of strong focus for my Fellowship included support for the Birdsong Peanut Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) Nutrition Program, which is a new arm of intervention for Operation Smile. Malnourished cleft patients who are denied surgery due to underweight issues now have a therapy available to restore nutrition and increase eligibility for surgery. This eliminates one of the barriers in accessing safe surgery, and can enhance nourishment for an individual for up to a year. Since this project is relatively new, with the peanut-based RUTF distributed in just 8 countries so far, I was able to understand the program development, phased growth, obstacles and potentials involved with the start-up of an extensive global project.

I plan to continue my program interests as Operation Smile’s intern this fall, expanding my experience to advance the existing university program within Operation Smile’s Student Program landscape. To do this, I’ve enlisted the help of a selected University Committee to develop the first-ever National University Conference in January 2018 for university-only students. With a leadership focus, the conference will be designed to support college-level curriculum. Speakers are being selected in a way that will best aid college students in their graduate and post-graduate opportunities with Operation Smile, and other NGOs and health organizations.

I requested to continue my work with Operation Smile not because I must, but simply because I choose to follow what Operation Smile instilled. A desire to do more, contribute more, and help lead the charge for positive global impact. Thanks to the support from the Hilton Prize Coalition, I gained an unyielding sense of determination to further my own humanitarian efforts, and will forever be an Operation Smile ambassador, opening the doors for change.

(Photos courtesy of Operation Smile)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition
The Hilton Prize Coalition is an independent alliance of the 22 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the Fellows Program, the Collaborative Models Program and the Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat, Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow the Hilton Prize Coalition on Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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