- Now entering its third year, the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program continues to yield rewards and promise for the humanitarian sector. The participation of Coalition members in the selection and rigorous training of Fellows ensured a high-performing cohort in Year Two, 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.
Here are just a few of the program's successes:
- Sarah Baker was recruited from her recent role as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with SOS Children’s Villages to become their Senior Coordinator of Corporate Partnerships. As a Fellow with the Brand, Marketing & Communications team, Sarah focused on media outreach, crafting media pitches, copy writing, managing the brand, and developing organizational one-pagers. She will now focus her strong communications background and her experience in grant writing and account management on overseeing SOS's Workplace Giving & Employee Engagement accounts as well as providing support for several of their corporate partners. Read about Sarah’s experience here.
- Danielle Harris completed her Fellowship with Landesa and has now accepted a contract position as their Business Development Assistant. During her three-month fellowship, Harris created new tracking tools for donor relations and helped with important research projects. In her new role, Danielle continues to work on fundraising programs to build relationships with donors and partners and communicates with Landesa colleagues globally to share the organization’s best practices and expertise. Read about Danielle's experience here.
- Harry Shepherd completed his Fellowship at the IRCT and is now supporting UNFPA's national advocacy to promote sexual and reproductive rights in Ghana, working with traditional and religious leaders and lobbying local authorities on investing in appropriate family planning services and sexuality education. Read about Harry's experience here.
- Also with the IRCT, Alexandre Leal de Freitas is participating in an internal review of the organization and is also involved in the development and fundraising for a project with the IRCT’s network to provide specialized rehabilitation services for LGBTI victims of torture. His Master's thesis was recently awarded and selected to be published on the Global Campus of Human Rights website; it focuses on the oppression faced by trans and gender-diverse sex workers and calls for the implementation of legislation and public policies primarily aimed at protecting them from human rights violations and abuse. Click here to read the paper.
To learn about the Fellows and what they are working on, click here.
Chloe Baury is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow based in Bangkok, Thailand with ECPAT International, where she conducts research and analyzes information on national laws and legal procedures related to the sexual exploitation of children in Cambodia and Mauritania. Chloe graduated with a Master’s degree in International Law from Assas University (Paris) and a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Jean Moulin University (Lyon) in 2015. She also studied European Human Rights Law at Oxford University and has done volunteer work in Cambodia and for Cameroon. In this post, Chloe reflects on how she was able to put her education and experience into practice working for the protection of children’s rights.
Joining the Fight against Child Sexual Exploitation
by Chloe Baury
After graduating from university, it took me time to find out what I wanted to dedicate my life to. I had spent a number of years studying law but could not picture myself working in a law firm; I wanted to make a real difference and work for a non-profit organization. So I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations, and during this time I quickly developed a strong interest in children’s rights. Following graduation, I left for Cambodia to work in the field of access to education. When I returned to France, I wanted to apply my newly acquired skills and knowledge to a research role in an NGO focusing on children’s rights. As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I soon joined the international secretariat of ECPAT in Bangkok in June 2017. ECPAT is an international NGO network dedicated to the fight against sexual exploitation of children.
When I arrived, I quickly realized that my knowledge of the subject was limited. In my mind, the sexual exploitation of children was an issue that mostly happened in developing countries and was related to tourism or trafficking. However, what I learned at ECPAT was that this phenomenon happens everywhere, and can take many forms: sex tourism, pornography, trafficking, child marriage, prostitution. Children—girls and boys—are at risk in low, middle or high-income countries. No child is immune, and no country is untouched.
Since I had lived in Cambodia, my first task was to write a report on child sexual exploitation there. I had to collect information on facts, the legal framework in Cambodia, preventive measures, international and regional cooperation mechanisms, child-sensitive justice and child participation measures. The amount of reports and articles on the matter was impressive, even though accurate data is difficult to obtain due to the secretive and clandestine nature of this crime. While writing the first draft, I thought back to all the bars and karaoke places I had seen in Cambodia where ‘child prostitution’ can potentially take place, and I realized that I might have crossed many children who were being sexually exploited whilst walking around the riverside neighbourhood of Phnom Penh or in the streets of Sihanoukville.
I then wrote a report on Mauritania and faced the opposite problem: a complete lack of information on sexual exploitation. Sexuality was a strongly taboo subject, and many customs were strongly entrenched due to religious laws and beliefs; so even when such customs were detrimental to young women, the crime was pushed underground. However, I soon realized that there were also common challenges that were most likely shared with many other countries: a lack of law enforcement, and cultural barriers that would instill a fear in victims to report such crimes. Law enforcement officials are often corrupt, and victims often are ashamed or fear social exclusion. Even worse, victims of trafficking themselves are sometimes punished for engaging in prostitution, even though they were coerced to do so. Young girls are often treated as criminals, by way of local beliefs and traditions, because they are perceived as having had extramarital sexual relationships.
Whilst writing these reports, I felt frustration, anger and a strong urge to join the fight against child sexual exploitation. The reports illustrate how vital it is to change states of mind, to raise awareness among communities, and to work with governments as well as religious leaders. Preventive measures are as important as any protective measures.
My family and friends often ask me if it is not too difficult, emotionally speaking, to read about cases of abuse and exploitation every day, all day long. I answer that I can handle it, but never get used to it. My colleagues and I are often gasping discreetly when we read testimonies or data reports. It is also difficult not to think about it outside of work: every now and then, when I cross middle-aged foreigners with a local girl or boy, I cannot help but think: “Is this girl/boy underage? Is this a case of child sexual exploitation? Should I do something?” I am now more aware of the extent of this crime, and I hope the reports will contribute to raising awareness and creating solutions to fight it.
These past four months of my fellowship have been both professionally and personally rewarding. The fellowship made it possible for me to put my education and experience into practice. The Coalition provided me with online training courses to further improve my knowledge on the protection of children’s rights. I have learned a lot and I cannot thank enough my supervisors and colleagues at ECPAT for their teaching and guidance. The experience has reassured me that working for the protection of children is the professional path on which I wish to continue.
(Photos courtesy of the author)
Harry Shepherd recently completed a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship with the IRCT (The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims). The IRCT serves as an umbrella organization for over 150 member centers that aid survivors of torture in more than 70 countries. Originally from the UK, Harry brought two years’ experience in the technology sector, working at the IRCT while completing his Master’s of Science in Global Development at The University of Copenhagen. In this post, Harry reflects on the challenges, lessons and results of working with 33 torture rehabilitation centers to build a clinical database as part of the IRCT’s Data in the Fight against Impunity (DFI) project.
Fighting Torture with Data: The Challenges and Consequences of International Collaboration
by Harry Shepherd
The IRCT’s Data in the Fight against Impunity (DIF) project involved 33 torture rehabilitation centres from 28 different countries working across many time zones. Arriving partway into this project and being tasked with assisting the design and delivery of a database technology innovation that captures clinical data on victims of torture was daunting. It soon became clear, however, that the work to leverage patients’ data more systematically so that it could be used to fight against impunity for these victims of torture, would form a strong motivating force.
IRCT member centers designed the database themselves under the auspices of the DFI project, which captures systematic data on torture cases
The methodology of the DFI project was one of continual collaboration across the Secretariat team and between the members. This was critical in yielding the IRCT member centres’ shared expertise in order to design the clinical database. The database systematically records data about the victims of torture: their characteristics; how they were tortured; the context in which they were tortured; the presenting symptoms; and recommended rehabilitation treatments.
Of course the heterogeneity of the centres regarding size, location, breadth of rehabilitation services provided, types of victims treated, and respective resource limitations meant that achieving a consensus on how this should be designed was demanding. However, it is this same diversity across the IRCT’s global membership that makes the IRCT unique. The centres remained determined to leverage their breadth of insights to strengthen the overall impact of DFI.
Regional workshops, video conferencing, the IRCT membership site, and weekly project newsletters were among the devices used to yield the - internationally located- voices of the centres. Both operational and more academic challenges were overcome through these means. Everything, from how the informed consent form ought to be uploaded to the database, to how terms such as “secondary victims (of torture)” should be understood, were discussed. This consensus enabled the team in Copenhagen to manage an external IT consultant to create a database technology that captures the various data fields needed. And then, before the database could be implemented at the member centres, it required translation into the five languages used by the corresponding members. A number of upgrades were completed to evolve the database into a slick, useful, and secure tool based on centres’ feedback.
Staff from IRCT centers based in Sub-Saharan Africa discuss the database at a regional workshop held in Nairobi
I feel privileged to have helped coordinate this. Now that the project is over, at least under its current project cycle, I have learnt that close communication with centres and the development of a strong sense of community among them is the key to a successful project like DFI. This can of course be a significant challenge when working across countries, let alone continents; however, the use of technology platforms, underpinned by a strong culture of open dialogue, can enhance a project’s success.
As with all projects of this scale, trial and error allows the organisation to understand what works well and what does not. Compromises were, of course, made at times as local needs differ, project deadlines continually loom, and resources remain finite. Overall I feel extremely proud to be a part of a strategy that has enabled 33 centres to agree the contents, scope and design of a clinical database that is now being used to improve centres’ operational efficiency and human rights outputs. Thanks to this project, IRCT’s mission to ensure more patients can be seen, to support advocacy initiatives, and to contribute to the global fight against torture and the rehabilitation of victims is being realised.
I would like to say a massive thank you for the Hilton Prize Coalition for awarding me the Fellowship and allowing me to take up this opportunity at the IRCT.
(Photos courtesy of the author)
We were thrilled to receive this letter from 2017 Fellow Ana Rabogliatti that offers a glimpse of the work she is supporting through her placement with member organization 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. The Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program seeks to develop and nurture emerging humanitarian leaders by providing opportunities for them to work with these best-in-class organizations. Thank you, Ana!
Dear Hilton Prize Coalition,
I am writing to inform you of my past month as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow and to express my appreciation for the opportunity that has been granted to me. Within such a short period of time I have already gained a much greater appreciation of the humanitarian work in which both the Hilton Prize Coalition and Operation Smile are immersed.
I have always been fascinated by the medical field and the belief that there are issues that need to be addressed on a global scale. This is a core belief of Operation Smile and I am so proud that I have the chance to share my compassion and values with them. I owe it to the Hilton Prize Coalition for making this all possible. This Fellowship has allowed me to work firsthand to combat health obstacles faced in many countries, known as the barriers to care, and the difficulties faced when there is a lack of access to safe and timely surgery. Although I am thousands of miles away, by experiencing the procedures, organization, and undertakings an NGO as large as Operation Smile [operates across the world] on a daily basis, I have been able to work on the front lines with some of these issues and broaden my competence in the logistics of engaging in both the business industry and humanitarian field.
In this last month, I have worked closely with [co-founder] Kathy Magee and the Office of the Co-Founders, collaborating in several projects, which include coordination regarding IFS research (International Family Study) for identifying the genetic and physical determinants leading to cleft lip and palate, the Birdsong Peanut RUTF Program that provides malnourished individuals with a Ready To Use Therapeutic Food that enhances nourishment in order to achieve the optimal weight for safe surgery, and involvement in the logistics and development of Operation Smile’s International Student Leadership Conference in Rome, Italy.
I am also helping to organize Operation Smile’s 35th Anniversary gala in November. Operation Smile has taken this anniversary not only to celebrate the progress achieved in the past but to move forward in the future, with the goal of eradicating the backlog of cleft. To be part of this ambition is an honor, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for the opportunity to be so involved in such influential affairs. The Hilton Prize Coalition’s consideration and enthusiasm for the humanitarian mission is helping set a new standard for the future of Operation Smile and for philanthropic aid entirely, and I cannot wait to see the subsequent progress of my involvement, the Coalition’s relationship, and global development with Operation Smile.
2017 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, Operation Smile
(Operation Smile Photo-Marc Ascher. Child Life Specialist Jennifer Kreimer in the OR during Operation Smile's first mission to the Dominican Republic.)
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.
Chytanya Kompala is currently completing a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship with PATH, a global health and innovation NGO based in Seattle, WA. Chytanya holds a Master of Science in Public Health degree in Nutrition from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
In this blog post, Chytanya writes about her experience working with PATH’s Nutrition Innovation team to explore the effects of tobacco use during pregnancy on childhood stunting. She is also currently drafting a policy brief to highlight interventions that could help to reduce chronic undernutrition.
Stepping Out of the Silo: Advocating for Interdisciplinary Approaches to Undernutrition
By Chytanya Kompala
Global nutrition is my passion. In graduate school, I was trained to think about nutrition problems in the developing world from a certain perspective. My training came from nutritionists and did not emphasize collaboration with sectors outside of nutrition. My peers have been nutritionists. All of my previous work experiences have been completely focused on nutrition. As a global health nutritionist and researcher, I was eager to work with the Nutrition Innovation team at PATH and gain an insider’s perspective into one of the most reputable global health NGOs in the world. When I started my fellowship in February 2017, I was expecting something similar to my previous nutrition-centric experiences. I was anticipating joining a team that worked similarly to other organizations in this field. I was expecting to rely on my existing knowledge of nutrition. Instead, I had an entirely different experience. I found myself learning so much about new topics from a team with diverse backgrounds and next-generation ideas.
The issue of chronic undernutrition (technically known as stunting) has been at the center of my fellowship research. Chronic undernutrition among children under age five is one of the largest burdens of malnutrition and is an unavoidable topic in the developing world.
Chytanya Kompala at the PATH 40th anniversary celebration in Seattle, WA (courtesy of Kelsey Miller)
Early this spring, I attended a presentation at PATH’s headquarters by Roger Thurow, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the author of The First 1,000 Days. “Stunted children have a life sentence to under-performance and under-achievement,” he said. As Thurow described, stunting during childhood impacts a child for the rest of his or her life. Long-term consequences of stunting include reduced educational attainment, impaired cognitive function and development, poor economic productivity, and even an increased likelihood of having stunted children. Stunting is an intergenerational condition that hinders the growth and development of individuals, families, communities, and even countries.
The Lancet 2013 Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition was a seminal set of papers that acted to coalesce the nutrition and development communities around a set of proven, “nutrition-specific” interventions to address stunting. They estimated that scaling up 10 nutrition interventions to 90 percent coverage would reduce stunting by about 20 percent. While this finding gave the community renewed focus, it also highlighted how much we still do not know about the complex determinants of stunting. What about the remaining 80 percent?
One of the aims of PATH’s Nutrition Innovation team is to help answer that question. During my six months at PATH, I worked on two projects: an ongoing systematic review and meta-analysis on the effects of tobacco use during pregnancy and its association with stunting, and drafting a corresponding policy brief on “nutrition-sensitive” risk factors that may be contributing to stunting—those that were not highlighted in The Lancet 2013 Series.
I never thought that my research would be focused on tobacco use. At first, I was skeptical about researching this topic. I have no background or experience working on tobacco, and I was unsure about how relevant tobacco would be to stunting. But through our meta-analysis, my eyes have been opened to the idea that much more cross-sectoral research still needs to be done to explore the intersection and overlap between different health and development issues and nutrition outcomes.
"Meet the Future" panelists discuss innovation and diversity at the PATH 40th anniversary celebration in Seattle, WA (courtesy of the author)
Working on the Nutrition Innovation team at PATH has taught me an invaluable lesson about the interdisciplinary nature of global health and nutrition. Too often, people try to do great work in silos. Echoing this message at PATH’s 40th anniversary celebration in May, a diverse panel of innovators and young leaders discussed the importance of making connections across sectors to solve the world’s problems. By working collaboratively and moving away from the “business as usual” mindset, we can achieve greater impact. Thinking about stunting outside of the “nutrition-specific” lens enables us to better understand the complex and broad, sweeping determinants of the problem. Our research on tobacco is just one example of this.
We are currently in the process of drafting our policy brief with the aim of broadening the conversation about stunting to address issues beyond the nutrition interventions highlighted in The Lancet. We are exploring sound evidence on additional determinants of stunting, such as household air pollution, tobacco use, hygiene and sanitation, education, and delaying the first birth and birth spacing.
Part of our message is to advocate for more interdisciplinary approaches among people working in different sectors—to encourage researchers, program implementers and policymakers to expand their approach to include cross-sector indicators in their research and programs. Many health and development studies and programs do not include stunting as an outcome of interest, even when evidence indicates that there may well be an effect. We hope our work can help guide the conversation out of the box and lead to new, creative, and interdisciplinary approaches to end undernutrition around the world.
I am grateful for this fellowship and exposure to the great work of the Nutrition Innovation team at PATH. My time here has greatly expanded and shaped my perceptions and approach to thinking about global nutrition.
2017 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow Judith Bagachwa is currently completing her fellowship with HelpAge International Tanzania (HAITAN). She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Hubert Kairuki in Tanzania and is the founder and director of the Jb Geriatric and HIV Center in Dar Es Salaam. In this blog post, Judith describes her experience working on the “Afya Kibaha - International Health Ageing through a Life Course Approach” project to promote healthy living practices across generations of community members in Tanzania.
Pictured above is Judith in discussion with a community member from Bamba village about the village's 2-acre farming activity.
As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with HelpAge Tanzania, I have learned and gained a lot from working on the "Afya Kibaha 2025" project, a community-based approach designed to promote healthy living practices across all ages. This project takes a life course approach to health in view of the role that intergenerational relationships, families, and communities have in promoting health across all ages. It integrates a community-based approach to “reduce modifiable risk factors for non-communicable diseases and underlying social determinants through creation of health-promoting environments.” The project further seeks to increase a sustainable youth engagement and strengthened intergenerational partnerships to support healthy living practices.
The goals of the Afya Kibaha 2025 project are to:
1. Support health promotion and improve health among all ages
2. Prevent/delay the onset of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
3. Support the health and functioning of older persons with non-communicable diseases.
Project Training and Community Life Competence Approach
During the project, we conducted a total of five training sessions involving 240 participants from 10 communities: Mlandizi, Mtambani, Mwendapole A, Mwendapole B, Boko Mnemela, Mnemela Kibaoni, Mharakani, Bamba, Picha ya Ndege and Kongowe. Through the use of our CLCP approach (Community Life Competence Process), community members were trained and asked to come up with their own health projects that would benefit their communities. The CLCP process aims at promoting self-reliance by stimulating older persons to appreciate their strength and abilities. The CLCP facilitates the empowerment of people and communities to discover and use their own strengths to address life concerns.
Participants planning and strategizing about their community dream
Family Health Mentors
During the trainings, six intergenerational family health mentors from each community were selected and given the task of educating their respective communities about health issues, especially on non-communicable diseases, and guiding families to live healthy lives by visiting health clinics, doing regular exercises, and setting up vegetable gardens. The aim of the trainings was to ensure that healthy lives are promoted and advocated to all ages (Children, Youth, Adults and Older Persons). Community dreams and action plans therefore focused on promoting intergenerational healthy practices to better protect communities from health risks. As the participants who attended the trainings represented their respective communities, they were able to identify challenges within their communities and later come up with ideas on how they can solve the health-related issues. As a team, these community members explored all the opportunities and developed action plans towards achieving their community dreams.
Community vegetable garden at Mtambani
Community members from Mwndapole A, doing regular exercises in the early morning before sunrise
Outcomes from the project observed to date:
- An increasing number of people are understanding the importance of doing physical exercises and joining the active ageing groups.
- Community members had been encouraged and motivated to have vegetable gardens, both at family level and community level; as a result, family members are now eating nutritional food staff from their own gardens.
- More youths, adults, and older persons are going for health checkups.
Celebrating at the Learning Festival
In March 2017, all ten communities were invited to come and share their experiences at a learning festival. During the festival, video clips from the different communities and their projects were shown. Through these and the testimonies of how the Intergenerational project had helped children, youths and older persons, all were able to see how the CLCP approach had a positive impact on people’s lives in Kibaha. The CLCP approach required people to use their own resources and strengths to achieve their goals at both the family and community level, guiding them on how not to be dependents and instead to seek out and apply their own resources. The festival helped people realize that they can do something better for themselves and improve on their lives.
Women from different communities displaying their own initiative -- handmade products -- at the Learning Festival in Kibaha
Bibi Elizabeth Nkwela checking her blood pressure at the health desk during the festival
Participants from Mtambani village at the Learning Festival
I am so thankful I was able to conduct this project. I have been able to see how a young generation can work with an older generation and bring change in the community. Through HelpAge and the Hilton Prize Coalition, a door has been opened for me and my organization.
Samantha Acosta is currently a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with HelpAge USA, an organization which advocates and empowers older persons to secure, active and healthy lifestyles. In this capacity, she focuses on the organization’s Healthy Aging Programs, conducting research related to fundraising, partnership building and grant management.
Samantha recently graduated with her Master’s degree in Social Work from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, where she explored gerontology infused courses with both a national and international focus. She has also conducted field research in Uganda, where she collected data on older persons’ quality of life, along with perceived needs and barriers. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Cultural Anthropology and Politics in 2014.
In the blog post below, she writes about her experiences in Uganda and the implementation of the Healthy Outcomes Tool.
Oli otya, Greetings from Uganda
In May 2016, I embarked upon my first trip to Uganda, where 12 Dominican University students and I had the opportunity to work closely with Health Nest Uganda, addressing the health needs and concerns of older persons by utilizing the Healthy Outcomes Tool (HOT). HOT is used as an assessment tool to evaluate an older person’s health status, functionality, access to health services, safety, and self-care. During this process, we traveled to four rural communities, where we followed up with older persons for the second round of data collection. By promoting the Healthy Outcomes Tool, the team was able to clearly identify barriers and obstacles that the older persons’ were facing in everyday life. Some of the obstacles addressed were mobility, distance to the health centers, whether medications were readily available, cost of medications, fear of being abandoned by family members, and property being taken. As we were able to gather and evaluate the given data, we addressed these issues and concerns with the leaders of each community. We gathered qualitative data on simple programs that could be implemented in order to create possible solutions for the barriers that were addressed. During our final meeting, a leader from each community joined to discuss what their personal community had decided to implement. The ideas were magnificent and suited each community in their own special way. I said my goodbyes to Uganda and the communities I worked with in May 2016, not knowing when I would return.
(Key older person leaders and Dominican University students, May 2016)
Thankfully, my story and work with Uganda and with Health Nest Uganda continued. Following graduation and after receiving my Master’s degree in Social Work, I decided to focus my studies on Uganda and how older persons are affected throughout the world. I collaborated with Kristin Bodiford, Health Advisor at HelpAge USA, learning about the issues of older persons and HelpAge’s mission to tackle those barriers. Through my work as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I was able to return to Uganda in February 2017. During the second phase of my fieldwork, I was able to see the incredible progress that was made. Some communities incorporated singing, dancing and exercise programs in their regimen (photo below), while others focused on sanitation surrounding the latrines and handwashing, enhancing nutrition by building their very own catering business, and setting up regular check-ups within the community to test and treat non-communicable diseases. Witnessing this first hand was absolutely fascinating.
(An older person from Bugonga Village showing a Dominican University student the way they use dance and singing to promote healthier living and lifestyles)
I’m so thankful I was able to explore these issues in-depth and better understand the barriers that older persons experience daily through HelpAge and my Hilton Prize Coalition Fellowship. This opportunity not only provided me with the opportunity to return to Uganda and continue my direct field experience, but I gained deeper insights on how HelpAge is working to address and assist older persons to be recognized more readily around the world and within local and national regulations.
Weeraba, Farewell, until next time.
Meet some of the #HPCFellows in our Year 2 cohort - the next generation of #HumanitarianLeaders: http://bit.ly/2s2a7ud
#HPCFellow Judith of is working alongside elderly populations in Kibaha on intergenerational approaches for NCDs