On Tuesday, September 19, 2017 a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico, killing more than 220 people to date. At least 11 Hilton Prize Laureates operate in the surrounding region. Through protocols established under the Hilton Prize Coalition Disaster Relief and Resiliency Program, the Coalition is facilitating communications between these organizations to share information that might help to support collective relief efforts. Responses may include resource-sharing among Coalition members in the countries or regions affected to assist with recovery.
Laureates responding in the region include Casa Alianza/Covenant House, ECPAT, Heifer International, IRCT, Landesa, MSF/Doctors Without Borders, Operation Smile, Partners In Health, PATH, SOS Children’s Villages, and The Task Force for Global Health.
Collaboration between the affected organizations is supported by the Coalition’s Clearinghouse, a central repository of information about each respective Laureate organization and its operational capacities. The Clearinghouse function was developed to increase the organization's knowledge of each other’s activities that would promote their ability to work in concert with one another.
Updates on the response efforts underway by Coalition members are being collected and shared on the Coalition's Twitter feed.
(AP Photo: People walk through a neighborhood in Jojutla, Mexico, where many buildings collapsed the day before.)
Giovany Delgado recently completed a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship with Casa Alianza Nicaragua (Spanish for Covenant House). Giovany holds an MS in Latin American Development from King’s College London. He completed his BA degree in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Miami and received a Diploma in International Relations from a European Perspective from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas in Madrid, Spain, where he was a Benjamin Gilman Scholar, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. State Department.
In this post, Giovany reflects on his experience working with at-risk adolescent youth in his native Nicaragua and its effect on his career goals. (All photos appear courtesy of the author.)
Reconnecting to My City through Grassroots Development
By Giovany Delgado
Ever since I came back to Nicaragua after my studies abroad, I’ve been reconnecting with the bustling city of Managua, Central America’s 2nd largest capital city. I call this city home. Yet, I hadn't lived here for over a decade when I began my fellowship with Casa Alianza Nicaragua.
Youth participating in the annual Peace Festival, an activity developed to promote peace, unity, respect and solidarity among adolescents, their families and local communities.
At a midpoint in my career, I had dedicated my goals to strengthening civil society organizations and implementing development projects. The fellowship I was awarded by the Hilton Prize Coalition allowed me the opportunity to connect directly with one of its member organizations in my native country. For eight months, I worked with Casa Alianza, an organization with over 19 years of experience helping at-risk youth facing homelessness, drug addictions and multiple forms of violence, including human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
My fellowship made it possible for me to put my education and experience into practice, working to solve the complex in-country problems NGOs face in terms of economic sustainability, program development, evaluation and implementation. Casa Alianza is one of the few civil society organizations in Nicaragua with a unique and holistic approach to supporting at-risk youth in terms of protection and care. Its programs include social work support, health and medical care, family reintegration services, psychological support, legal services, a rehabilitation from substance abuse program and recreational, cultural and sporting activities. Throughout its 19 years, Casa Alianza has managed to provide recovery services to over 50,000 at-risk youth.
At Casa Alianza Nicaragua, adolescents have an opportunity to participate in alternative therapies as part of their recovery process. Yoga, floral therapy and Reiki are among the options available to them.
While working at Casa Alianza, I had the opportunity to go out on community site visits with the Street Outreach Program, and was able to witness the extensive network of services available to youth residing in either of Casa Alianza’s two residential centers. I worked to improve this network of services, re-organizing the services and implementing a strategy for their monitoring and evaluation. This strategy helped track and record the quality and number of services provided by the program while finding areas that needed further improvement and innovation. Additionally, I developed a methodological framework to enhance data collection for the family reintegration program, a community research tool responsible for investigating the socio-economic dynamics of each adolescent and his/ her family within the program.
During my fellowship I also assisted in elaborating a fundraising strategy focusing on international cooperation agencies, private sector companies and multilateral organizations. I used my multimedia communication skills to develop and market the Casa Alianza Nicaragua brand both nationally and internationally, boosting the overall online presence of the organization by 80%.
Lunchtime - Listening to the adolescents' stories regarding their hopes and dreams brought meaning to the operational and administrative work I was performing.
These past eight months of my fellowship have been professionally and personally rewarding, as this work has allowed me to reconnect with Nicaragua and contribute to development efforts here. I have witnessed, through a grassroots lens, the work implemented and complexities faced by civil society organizations such as Casa Alianza. I have participated in developing short and long-term programmatic solutions. Moreover, seeing my work contribute to positive results in the recovery process of the adolescents whom I encountered was truly a touching and unforgettable experience. Thanks to the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship, I have reassured myself that this is the professional path on which I wish to continue.
Founded in 1972, Covenant House operates in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua. Today, it describes itself as “the largest privately funded charity in the Americas providing care and vital services to over 50,000 homeless, abandoned, abused, trafficked, and exploited youth annually.”
Casa Alianza (Spanish for “Covenant House”) won the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2000. With this support, Covenant House opened Hilton Home in the center of Managua, Nicaragua, which each night can care for up to 110 boys and girls 12 – 17 years of age.
Covenant House maintains three core programs for homeless youth: Street Outreach, Crisis Care and Rights of Passage, its long-term transitional living program. Supporting these core programs is a wide range of services that include education, job training, counseling and legal advocacy. This holistic approach allows children to reclaim their lives and become active citizens, removed from violence and poverty. In addition to providing residential and support services for homeless kids, the charity advocates for homeless youth at the local, state, national and international levels of government. It holds consultative status with the United Nations and held a prominent role in The Campaign for U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Last year, the organization released its collaborative 60X20 Strategic Plan to reach more than 60,000 homeless and trafficked youth a year by 2020. Read more about 60X20 and its strategic goals here.
In 2016, Covenant House became an active member of the Hilton Prize Coalition, an independent alliance of the 20 winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. As an active member, the organization has committed to engage with the Coalition’s Signature Programs and Collective Impact Initiatives to foster collaboration in the international development and humanitarian sectors. “Covenant House/Casa Alianza is honored to be part of the Hilton Prize Coalition and to work together to make a collective impact in the lives of the world's most vulnerable populations,” says Enny Rodriguez, Covenant House Ambassador to Latin America.
Covenant House's comprehensive care on behalf of youth in the Americas captures the spirit of the Coalition. Its participation in the Coalition’s programs will not only raise awareness of issues related to at-risk youth, but will also empower communities and advance local, national and international partnerships.