Reconnecting to My Roots: HPC Fellow, Neha Gauchan, ECPAT International

Neha Gauchan is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with ECPAT International. At ECPAT International, Neha provided in-depth research and recommendations on the state of child sexual exploitation in Nepal. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

I first encountered ECPAT International when I was studying my Master’s degree in Human Rights and Democratisation at Mahidol University, Thailand. ECPAT International, based in Bangkok, is the regional headquarters which works with 113 members in 98 countries in ending the sexual exploitation of children. This excited me the most because by working at the ECPAT headquarters, I would be able to contribute the majority of my time to learning from people with diverse expertise in child rights. ECPAT International’s research and advocacy work in child protection, especially on ending the sexual exploitation of children, was the area I was keen on working in. Lack of research in this field in the Global South contributes heavily to the lack of policies and changes we hope for, and it is humbling to be part of efforts to change that status quo. Getting to work with the team for the past six months gave me a deep insight on what needs to be done in this area.

Before joining as a fellow at ECPAT International, I had some experiences working against child sexual abuse. My internship in Vietnam frequently organized awareness raising events on topics of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), and it was during this time I had developed an interest in this field. While organizing these events, I often heard stories from people who shared their real-life experiences. It strengthened my belief that these narratives needed to be backed with evidence and research. As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow on the Research and Policy team at ECPAT International, I got the chance to own the Nepal project, conduct in-depth research, and provide proper recommendations for lobbying the government stakeholders.

During my time at ECPAT International, I also worked in drafting desk-based research on sexual exploitation of children in Nepal. Coming from Nepal, I felt this was a huge opportunity for me to better understand my country’s context on this issue and contribute to the existing literature on children’s issues in Nepal. Initially, the circumstances of child sexual exploitation in Nepal was very new to me due to little publicly available data and information on this issue. However, with time, I was able to gather and compile relevant information on five different manifestations, namely exploitation of children in prostitution, online child sexual exploitation, sale and trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism, and child, early, and forced marriages.

By undertaking this research, I was able to re-connect to my roots and understand the privilege that I have which could be utilized to bring a positive change to the lives of children in Nepal. This research project was not only a task that I was assigned as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, but it was also a small step of advocacy to bring awareness and act upon such issues in Nepal. Nothing is more fulfilling and satisfying than contributing to the needs of people back in my home country and this research has brought back my passion to continue fighting for the rights of children. I would like to thank the Hilton Prize Coalition and ECPAT International for giving me this opportunity to undertake this research project and helping me grow as an avid researcher in my professional career.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 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 contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Climate Change and Inequality: Cultivating Resiliency in State and Federal Child Welfare Programs and Policies: HPC Fellow, Lindsay Harrington, SOS Children’s Villages USA

Lindsay Harrington is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working at SOS Children’s Villages USA. At SOS Lindsay conducted an analysis of service gaps in the United States child welfare system. With a Master’s degree specializing in Policy from Columbia University, Lindsay is a Children’s Rights advocate with a strong interest in supporting efforts for the improved quality of governance and effective policy solutions to global humanitarian and development challenges. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Society’s most vulnerable individuals and groups are frequently found at the intersections of multiple and overlapping identities. In America, the degree and severity of oppression that people and communities experience is often determined by cumulative factors of identity such as race, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, ethnicity, citizenship status or disability. When generating solutions to societal problems, governments and organizations need to take into account all aspects of identity, as well as the systems that produce and perpetuate oppression.

As this pertains to United States child welfare, state and federal service providers often fail to adequately address the systemic and structural barriers that hold children and families back from accessing social and economic justice. Throughout my time as the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with SOS Children’s Villages in Washington, D.C., I conducted a nationwide assessment of the United States child welfare system. During this process, I observed how children and families at the intersections of poverty and climate change were being excluded from the dialogue. While the United States has demonstrated concerted efforts to cultivate innovations in child welfare, namely in regard to prevention and early intervention modalities among families and children at high risk of entering the system, a vicious cycle is occurring, and it lacks our collective attention.

Climate change fuels poverty and exacerbates inequalities. Every year, the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events drives people from their homes, separates families, and threatens access to economic opportunity. When natural disasters occur, they disproportionately harm low income communities who have fewer resources and receive less support from the financial system and social safety nets. Without these reinforcements, poor people and communities have a harder time preventing, coping and adapting to climate change. All of these factors contribute to an already overburdened child welfare system.

Despite the unprecedented economic growth and technological advances that have characterized the last decade, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Income and Poverty Report of 2018 measured that 38.1 million people still live in poverty. In 2018, the nation witnessed the greatest gap between rich and poor households it has seen in the last 50 years and  roughly 21% of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold. Currently, the nonelderly adult poverty rate for women is 14% compared to 10% of men. Meanwhile, the African American poverty rate is 22%, as opposed to 9% white. As the national economy surges ahead, the current administration has continued to make budget cuts to low income assistance programs.

According to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, low income communities are most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change because they already have higher rates of adverse health conditions, are more exposed to environmental hazards, and take longer to recover from natural disasters. As such, climate related shocks are known to perpetuate cycles of inequality and are a huge barrier to eliminating poverty. Even with immediate collective action, it is likely that we will continue to experience intensified natural events and America’s underlying inequalities will be further exposed. To see this in action, we can observe the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  

2005 revealed an urgent need to evaluate the impacts of disasters on the U.S. child welfare system after more than 5,000 children were reported missing following the hurricane and many foster children and families were heavily burdened during and after the storm. At the time of the hurricane, about 2,000 foster children lived in its path. By two weeks after the storm, state workers had lost track of an estimated 25% of these children and after a month, 158 remained unaccounted for.

Aside from this, Katrina aggravated preexisting inequalities. About one of every three people who lived in the areas hit hardest by the hurricane were African American. By 2010, after the hurricane displaced up to one million people in the Gulf region, the white population of New Orleans had dropped by only 24,000 while the black population dropped by 118,000. It is probable that this disparity is a consequence of decades of inequality after historically white neighborhoods were built on high ground and black neighborhoods were segregated and contained within low-laying regions of the city.

Moreover, as recent evidence has suggested, natural disasters tend to have a disproportionate impact on women.  In a qualitative report conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, low income black women faced added obstacles in returning to New Orleans post Katrina due to poor city planning and federal housing policy. As these women were met with distinct challenges, there is ample evidence to suggest that the Gulf region’s overall recovery process could have been strengthened through the support of enhanced measures to bolster gender equality. International assistance in development contexts has substantiated claims that increasing social and economic opportunities and political representation for women has ripple effects on health, education, and socio-economic outcomes throughout society. Unfortunately, concentrated government efforts to empower and build capacity among post Katrina women lacked targeted action. Furthermore, data collection in the wake of the disaster did not provide information fully disaggregated by gender or race and there is difficulty assessing the full scale of Katrina’s impact on women, particularly women of color.

After thousands were displaced, the overall population of New Orleans eventually rebounded. However, some predominately black neighborhoods like the Lower Ninth Ward, which was 98% black, never recovered. Post Katrina, only 37% of its residents returned. Today, African Americans comprise just 32% of Louisiana’s total population although black children account for 42% of all children living in out-of-home foster care. In part, this could be due to higher rates of poverty among black communities leading to less resilience. After black communities received less support from social safety nets, they took longer to recover and it is likely that children and families suffered as a result. Unfortunately, in order to make these determinations, more data is needed and much information is still unknown about the long-term impact on child welfare.  

Katrina is just one example of how climate catastrophes can have long and far reaching consequences that strain systems, perpetuate cycles and intensify inequalities. As such, governments, as well as civil society organizations, must broadly recognize the risks posed by climate change and adopt policies designed to limit the scale of its impact and adapt to its challenges. Making these strategic decisions under uncertainty about the future requires innovative thought, careful evaluation and dynamic planning. Establishing a flexible framework, careful research, close monitoring of changes and evaluating of outcomes is essential. Simultaneously incorporating crosscutting measures to reduce poverty and inequality will support communities to become more resilient and diminish future vulnerabilities to climate shocks.

As the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I enjoyed the opportunity to analyze these challenges and strengthen SOS Children’s Villages’ ability to cultivate organizational dexterity through adaptable policies and robust strategies. Ultimately, by integrating these critical measures within SOS-USA’s pipeline of support, the organization may be able to disrupt cycles of poverty and inequality in America and achieve even better child welfare outcomes.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 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 contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Storytelling Through Design: HPC Fellow, Helen Kline, SOS Children’s Villages USA

Helen Kline is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with SOS Children’s Villages USA. At SOS, Helen had the opportunity to be a storyteller, furthering SOS’s mission and values. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Four months ago, I came across the Hilton Prize Coalition Content and Storytelling Fellowship at SOS Children’s Villages USA. The word “Storytelling” stood out to me. I remember thinking it was probably a buzzword, and in that case, it had the desired effect: My mind raced to possible roles I’d have, regardless of whether or not they were actually in the description. I like to write in my spare time and have presented my writing at conferences, but I never considered storytelling as a career. It always felt more like a well-loved hobby, but this job title made me consider that maybe it could be both. SOS Children’s Villages sounded like a place where I could gain fundraising experience, allowing me to stay in the nonprofit world I’d always loved. It seemed comfortable yet exciting, so I hit “send” on my application and anxiously awaited a response.

Luckily, about a month later, I interviewed with my future supervisors. I felt it went well and was even more optimistic when they asked for writing samples. They noticed a short story listed on my resume and asked me to send it along. I was a bit confused. “Sure, but um don’t you want something more… professional? I could send a research blog post instead.”

They said I could email that too, but still wanted the short story included. Perhaps “storytelling” was less of a buzzword than I initially thought.

Starting out, the work didn’t feel quite as intricately connected as the designs and projects I’d imagined. They assigned a report on this here and donor touchpoint there, but as time progressed, I learned more about my audience and SOS Children’s Villages as a whole. I fell into a rhythm. I learned what would resonate with my supervisors. I designed each project with a fresh but consistent look and realized each helped tell a new story to SOS’s audience. 

SOS Children’s Villages USA is a part of an incredible global nonprofit but has its own goals, audience, and functions, and its brand materials needed to reflect this. My design and writing told donors and supporters SOS’s unique story. Designing, redesigning, and editing reports or donor touchpoints was less about the projects themselves and more about communicating the larger idea that the organization is growing and adapting to its audiences, while also remaining recognizable and identifiable, because if SOS cannot relate to its audiences, then it cannot garner the support needed to assist children and families globally. As a result, I had the opportunity to be a storyteller and reach audiences by incorporating my style into the brand, engaging donors, and contributing to furthering SOS’s mission and values.

Framing my fellowship as a storytelling process not only improved my skills, but also gave me a better sense of what I wanted for my career. In the end, I learned to be a more cohesive designer and see my work in a new way. This journey also pushed me to consider new professions. I am looking into multimedia journalism and other positions that will allow me to craft stories the way this fellowship allowed me to, and without the amazing teams at SOS Children’s Villages USA, I don’t think I would have learned so much about myself,  the impact design can have on donor engagement, or its role in storytelling. Therefore, I am incredibly thankful to the Hilton Prize Coalition and SOS for this opportunity, and I look forward to applying everything I’ve learned in my next position.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 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 contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

The Value of a Global Network of Field Epidemiology Training Programs: HPC Fellow, Stephen Kim, The Task Force for Global Health

Stephen Kim is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with The Task Force for Global Health. At The Task Force for Global Health, Stephen had the opportunity to support the development of new learning strategies and initiatives for the global Field Epidemiology Training Program. Read on to learn about his placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Late 2002 into early 2003, I was a boy living in Shanghai, China in close proximity to a new public health threat, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which began in the Guangdong province of southern China.

In 2020, a new Coronavirus labeled 2019-nCoV is an emerging public health threat that is receiving global attention.

As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I had the opportunity to work for The Task Force for Global Health, an organization that supports Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs). FETPs educate field epidemiologists, also known as disease detectives, giving them the skills to conduct disease surveillance, outbreak investigations, and biostatistics. Some examples of their work include airport quarantine, surveillance, case investigation, contact tracing, clinical management and infection control guidance.

It is times like these that we come to understand the value of field epidemiologists. Consequently, training field epidemiologists is an effective tool in building local, state, and national public health capacity in order to respond to the needs of their respective populations. As I write this blog, many FETPs are working to prepare and fight this new public health threat.

Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network (TEPHINET) is one of the networks under The Task Force for Global Health. TEPHINET is a secretariat and global network of FETPs. TEPHINET supports FETPs by providing quality improvement through accreditation programs, professional development opportunities such as scientific conferences, and management and training to FETPs and FETP graduates through funded projects.

Whether it be a manual, strategy, academic program, policy, or standard procedure, materials have to be revised to remain current and relevant. Likewise, FETPs require new learning strategies, “to support and ensure a well-trained global professional field epidemiology workforce prepared to address evolving public health priorities.” As a Fellow, I had the opportunity to support the development of a new learning strategy for the global FETP community by working closely with the TEPHINET Secretariat and FETP Learning Advisory Council (FLAC).

My fellowship started when the program was at its busiest. TEPHINET was hosting their 10th Global Scientific Conference in less than a month. Thus, I began my fellowship with a virtual meeting with the Learning Advisory Council that consisted of subject matter learning experts across the world dialing in from different time zones. The 10th TEPHINET Global Scientific Conference was our first opportunity to present the newly formed FLAC and its learning initiatives to the FETP community. FLAC members served as facilitators, while attendees formed small groups for discussions around insights, and successes and challenges of FETPs. I participated in a small group as a note taker while participants shared their experiences. I gathered group responses to identify common themes from the session. The discussion validated our plans for strategic direction.

I was also involved with coordinating the formation of functional sub-working groups and the external and internal mapping of learning initiatives. Working groups are ad-hoc groups tasked with developing criteria and action plans for key components of the learning strategy consisting of FETP staff, faculty, and alumni.

As I reflect on my time at The Task Force, I am inspired by many of the field epidemiology fellows, faculty, and professionals that support the FETPs. Mentorship, collaboration and partnership are at the heart of the widely successful growth of FETPs across the world. There are currently 71 FETPs programs training epidemiologist in more than 100 countries with over 12,000 FETP graduates around the world. Such growth would not have been possible without the partnerships and commitment from neighboring FETPs, regional FETP networks, TEPHINET and key organizations. This global conference serves as a glance at the collaborative culture that exists within and across programs and countries. Within FETPS, many of the mentors are alumni of programs that contribute and invest their time to FETP trainees on their own time. The cycle continues when trainees that have benefited from their mentors, learn to be valuable members of their community.

In the same way, many individuals that are willing to volunteer their time for working groups to developing a global learning strategy are also those that have been supporting the development in several countries near and far. As I continue my journey as an individual and a public health professional, I want to carry on the culture of mentorship, collaboration and partnership wherever I go.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Hilton Prize Coalition and The Task Force for Global Health for this opportunity and the support I received. In the process, I was able to learn and grow tremendously as a professional. I appreciate their involvement in supporting continuous learning in public health and working in a humanitarian context.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 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 contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Reporting on Child Sexual Exploitation in Turkey: HPC Fellow, Maud Ballez, ECPAT

Maud Ballez is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with ECPAT International. At ECPAT International, Maud developed her skills in legal research by drafting a comprehensive report on the sexual exploitation of children, helping to further ECPAT International’s mission. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Throughout my academic studies, I developed a keen interest in human rights matters. Two topics were of the utmost importance to me: refugee’s rights and children’s rights. Therefore, for my first step in my professional career, I knew I wanted to work for an organisation with a purpose and goal close to my heart. I had come across ECPAT International on several occasions and was following their work from a distance. When graduating from my Master of Laws at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, I saw there was an open position for a Legal Research Intern. I jumped on the opportunity and applied. No more than two months later, I was packing my bags to move to Bangkok and start an incredible fellowship experience at ECPAT International!

My fellowship experience at ECPAT has been both challenging and rewarding on many levels. It has allowed me to get better acquainted with the field of sexual exploitation of children and to better understand ECPAT’s work towards this issue. More than ever, it has made me realize how fundamental and important the work of NGOs is, if we want to strive towards better societies.

On a more practical level, my work at ECPAT has considerably enhanced my organizational skills, by teaching me how to multitask and successfully work in a fast-moving environment. It has also allowed me to develop my skills in legal research and writing. My main tasks were indeed twofold. I was first tasked with the drafting of short reports, destined to different human rights bodies. I then had the opportunity to research the legal systems of different countries, such as Chile, Madagascar, New Zealand, and The Gambia, regarding child sexual exploitation.

My second main task was to draft a comprehensive report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation of children in a specific country – or as we called it internally, a “Country Overview.” The country my research colleague and I were assigned was Turkey. Thus, for months, I researched the legal situation of child sexual exploitation in Turkey. Writing this report proved to be a lengthy and challenging process. Finding information was not always straightforward due to language barriers, a lack of published official data, and political reasons. Thankfully, we could count on the help and assistance of our local member in Turkey. Thanks to their collaboration, not only could we access unpublished information, we could also receive first-hand intelligence of the situation on the ground.

Today, the report is in its final stage. We are making final edits and preparing for the launch that will take place in Ankara, in March 2020. Looking back on the whole process, I am proud of the work accomplished and can only hope it will help improve the situation of children in Turkey.

I am thankful to the Hilton Prize Coalition for having given me the opportunity to work with ECPAT International and be part of such an important work!

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the 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 contactprizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

The Beginning of the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program

The Hilton Prize Coalition is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year. To commemorate, some of the first individuals to receive funding for fellowship placements in 2015 will be featured on the blog. Meet Meher Raza in the post below who used her funding to go on a medical mission to Peru where she worked on global health issues at local clinics.

This past summer, after completing my first year of medical school, I decided to travel to Peru as part of a medical mission.

After doing some research on the Americas, Peru’s Pueblos Jovenes really stood out to me. They are settlements created by women to empower their children to get better jobs during the revolution. I decided to join an organization called MEDlife that helped provide medical, education, and development to these regions on the outskirts of Lima.

I arrived a day earlier than my group and explored MiraFlores and central Lima on my own. I later joined my MEDlife group at Pakura hostel.

The next day we woke up bright and early to drive an hour to the outskirts of Lima to learn about the neighborhood we would be working in: pueblos jovenes — young towns. We were in ConoSur, the southern part. During the revolution, people from different parts of Peru that did not receive attention from the government and did not have access to jobs came to Lima. However, the overpopulated city was unable to house more migrant workers. These people decided to settle in the pig farms on the outskirts of Lima. As we drove towards these towns the ambiance shifted; the buildings and parks turned to small stores and broken roads. The cars turned to mototaxis (tuk tuks) and combis (mini buses) and as we got closer to it, the coast was replaced by hills with small huts.

The first step out of our bus filled my nose with a warm moist sour smell, which I was informed was a combination of pig farm and human waste. We stopped by the police station – there were only 16 workers for the entire ConoSur: 600,000 people! This was in stark contrast to Miraflores, that had 3 men in blue police uniforms on every block. We secured our belongings and started walking up the hills. The steep terrain did not allow cars or regular buses to ascend, so the only mode of public transport available were the mototaxis, which are generally more expensive.

As we started walking up we passed by the commercial area and then came to discover clothing lines and barrels of water. These barrels were used to store water that the waterbuses provided every day. This water was 5 times as expensive as the water that would be supplied via pipes in other districts in miraflores. Due to the unfriendly terrain, regular water and sanitation was impossible. This meant that the poorest in Lima paid the most for water—contaminated water. The water barrels, previously used for toxic substances, contained remnants of the toxins within the plastic. This combined with the parasites growing in the stagnating water accounted for 80% of the gastro-intestinal complaints at the clinic.

As we advanced further, the paths became narrower and steeper, until finally, we had to walk to find stairs.  Along the way, we passed many old women and children, since most adults were at work. We greeted each other and they welcomed us into their neighborhood. We saw dilapidated homes with nothing inside and huts that had satellite televisions and nice furniture. Ana, our group leader who was originally from ConoSur, explained that many of these people are comfortable here, they make their home and they start making homes for their children’s families at the same time. They have no intention to move out to more sustainable areas. I am still trying to understand that.  

After the reality tour we returned home had our first evening schedule: a meeting, a 3-course Peruvian dinner prepared by our hostel staff, and an educational meeting about Peru. In the days following we would learn about the healthcare system, MEDlife’s work, and its impact and then engaged in a few debates.

The Clinic:  The next day onward we began working at the clinic. Each day, we started early in the morning with packing, driving over, and set up of the clinic at new locations every day. One day it was at a daycare, once at a school and once it was just outside a few homes and some empty huts high enough to be accessible to the geriatric population who could not descend the hills. The healthcare professionals helping us were all Peruvian locals who were experts in the language, culture, and common problems.

Dental Station: My very first responsibility was as a dental assistant. This was the fastest paced station, with constant filling and extraction procedures. Each individual had 8-10 cavities! Some adults had had so many extractions that they barely had 6 teeth left! In the interest of time, we only completed one procedure on each individual and referred him or her to a local dental clinic.

Education Station: This station was the transition between the vitals station and seeing the physician—the waiting area. We used this opportunity to educate the patients on various health problems. I used this opportunity to complete my research survey and educate them on diet, exercise, and hygiene. I asked them questions about their access to healthcare, the main health concerns, how often they skipped their medications, their hygiene and nutrition. The highlight of this station was asking them how often they brushed their teeth. I got all sorts of replies from 3 times a day to 7 times a day! This combined with my experience at the dental station showed that they had no idea how often they had to brush their teeth.

Tooth-Brushing Station: This was the resolution. We taught young children how to brush their teeth properly and how often to brush their teeth in the presence of their parents. Then gave them their own toothbrushes.

Physician Station: A common complaint was a musculoskeletal complaint from falls 6-8 months ago. Given the rigorous terrain this was a common occurrence. However, they rarely got it checked out because that would mean skipping work and spending many hours at the only hospital just waiting to be seen.

Gynecologist Station: Gynecological exams were a huge taboo. Women would lie about pap smears to avoid getting any preventative care. Many were afraid their husband would find out and would disapprove. We had to consistently go out and talk to women about cervical and breast cancer, risk factors and the importance of preventative care to convince them to see the gynecologists!

Project Day:During this trip we spent one day on the “development” component of MEDlife. We completed a project where we painted a daycare center that the previous group had started to build.  We finished it with painting and installing non-flushable toilets- an innovative solution to the lack of sanitation!

Inspiration: My most inspiring encounter was not on the clinic or project, it was on a day off when I was at the hostel during the day and struck up a conversation with the cleaning lady. She was curious about my plans and what we were doing as part of MEDLife. Since this was the same hostel used for all MEDlife groups she was well aware of the clinic and the projects. So during our conversation she suddenly turned to me with a sparkle in her eyes and great enthusiasm and she asked me, “you guys just finished the daycare in Via Maria right?” I replied a short yes allowing her to get to the root of her excitement. “I’m going to use that daycare for my kids! I live right there!” Given the history I shouldn’t have been surprised that some one from there worked right here in Lima but I was also excited to learn all about her life there and working here. So I continued asking her questions. She explained how she takes multiple public transportation platforms and travels for 2 hours each day to get here. Her climb each day is 15 minutes in the morning and at night. Morning is okay in the daylight hours but night is a little dangerous but it usually gets dark by the time she gets home because of the long commute. She explained how she needed the daycare, how cheap and expensive it was to live there (the irony) and how much she appreciated our work.

Despite my interaction with many people when I was in ConoSur when she said told me her story, the entire project just hit so much closer to home! And we continued chatting excitedly about the new daycare.

Final Thoughts: My trip to Lima was a profound experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to help others whilst learning so much about Peruvian language, culture, and health issues. I have definitely changed my opinions on some global health issues as a result of the trip and I hope to return and continue doing this kind of work in Peru and elsewhere around the world.

Experience Working in Ethiopia: HPC Fellow, Malat Habtewold, Amref Health Africa

Malat Habtewold is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with Amref Health Africa. At Amref Health Africa , Malat’s role was to develop a Knowledge Management Platform to be accessible to all Amref Health Africa staff in Ethiopia. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Living in a country that is still in the process of developing comes with some benefits as well as challenging things. As part of a developing country, it is normal to face aspects like social injustice, poverty, and corruption. Some things that helped me during my time in Ethiopia included keeping an open mind, having empathy, and being aware of my surroundings.

Even though I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia I left at an early age to pursue my education in the western world. It felt good to be back home working at Amref Health Africa through the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program. Amref Health Africa works throughout Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, Afar, Amhara, Benishagul-Gumuz, Gambella, Oromia, Ethiopia-Somalia, and SNNP regions on creating stronger health systems through building the capacity of the Health Extension Program. The Health Extension Program works within the Government of Ethiopia’s Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), with a focus on ensuring health equity by serving women and children and reaching the most disadvantaged, inaccessible communities, including Ethiopia’s pastoralists and semi-pastoralist communities.

My role at Amref Health Africa was to develop a Knowledge Management Platform to be accessible to all Amref Health Africa staff in Ethiopia. Specifically over the course of the six month fellowship, I reviewed existing knowledge storing platforms and determined specific needs for Amref Health Africa Ethiopia knowledge management then designed one platform for knowledge management to be accessible by all staff, providing a toolkit and necessary training for staff.

Throughout the course of my fellowship, I had the privilege of visiting some Amref Health Africa sites. My first trip was to Awash, Afar, which is the market town in central Ethiopia located in Zone 3 of the Afar region above the gorge of the Awash River. It is located about 217 Kilometers from the capital city. I went with some of my coworkers, donor representatives, and AMREF Netherlands colleagues. We drove about 4 hours to get to our destination where we were having a meeting with all the staff working at the health centers.

The purpose of the visit was to meet with the staff at the health centers where Philips backpacking equipment was dispersed and talk with the project managers and staff to address some of the challenges they faced implementing programs with the equipment. Health Extension Workers, nurses, and physician had all but encouraging feedback on the implementation of backpack kits–especially the ultrasound. There had been an increase of mothers visiting the health center for the sole purpose of hearing their babies’ heartbeat. It had brought about behavioral change with the Mothers which is unique to the pastoralist community.

Some of the challenges the staff faced at the health center included inadequate training with the equipment, so staff did not know how to interpret abnormal or unique pregnancies while they operated the ultrasound equipment. It was very interesting for me to get first-hand experience on how they address some of the issues. The men were very forth coming and very comfortable in their own skin to talk about their challenges and the benefits they acquired whereas the women were very quiet and wouldn’t speak unless spoken too. This group explained the need for more training in order to read and explain some of the difficult cases they encounter.

Overall the field visit was very encouraging. To see the positive impact of health outcomes and the distribution of the backpack equipment both in the health post and health centers had brought about huge influence in the pastoralist community.

My view about Afar in general changed after I visited Semera, Afar, which is located about 591 kilometers from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It is the capital city of Afar where the university resides. Afar is the place where the human species originated from some million years ago. It is a pastoralist community where most of the community are nomads. I went to visit one of the projects to document success stories and lessons learned by talking to members of the community. The project’s main aim was to strengthen economic opportunities and resilience of the most vulnerable communities to human-induced and natural disaster crisis through maintaining the well-being of the community and increase productivity.  I had a chance to be part of the mothers conference that is held in the health post monthly. Their main purpose is to have pregnant mothers go to health centers to track their pregnancies and eventually have their babies. Once the babies are born, they make sure they are vaccinated and educate the mothers to take their babies to the health centers when they are sick which was not the norm before. This conference has brought about behavioral changes in their community. They also receive nutritional training such as what kind of nutrient is necessary for their well-being of their children. Afar people are very welcoming people and eager for a change.

 My overall experience in Ethiopia was eye-opening, and I was able to see my country on a whole different level. With the experience I acquired from Amref Health Africa I am one step forward to making a difference.

Pushing Against River Blindness and Snail Fever: HPC Fellow, Yasmine Aicha Salle, The Task Force for Global Health

Yasmine Aicha Salle is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with The Task Force for Global Health. At The Task Force for Global Health, Yasmine enhanced her research skills through processing and analyzing dried blood spot and black fly samples in WHO’s ESPEN laboratory. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Sight is probably the most important sense of all the five. Figuratively, “You can see what is coming.” In this context, it can be a very rude awakening if one was to be confronted with imminent blindness. Worse, if such blindness can be avoided and yet fate swipes away such a chance, then the pain is immeasurable. This is what communities in onchocerciasis endemic regions live dreading. For them, it is only a matter of time before they are plunged into permanent darkness. The elimination of onchocerciasis in Africa was not perceived to be feasible until relatively recently. However, after some successes in the Americas, interests grew in Africa and work began to determine if the disease could be eliminated in this continent as well. I have always wondered how I could help to attain this goal; even just a little bit. Therefore, when I got an opportunity to apply for the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program through the Task Force for Global Health, I knew my chance had come. I was overjoyed and worked extremely hard to learn as much as I could about the efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). I quickly appreciated the importance of accurate and timely diagnosis for onchocerciasis, which as a major factor in informed decision-making for mass drug administration (MDA), in the light of its interruption and subsequent elimination.

During my internship at the WHO’s ESPEN laboratory, in Ouagadougou, I worked as a research technician on molecular and serological diagnosis of NTDs. I have learnt and mastered all-important molecular and serological assays performed in the lab. Specifically, I processed and analyzed more than 60,000 dried blood spots by the ELISA method from several countries in West Africa where Onchocerciasis is endemic. Additionally, I processed more than 170,000 black fly samples by a molecular pool-screening methodology. These analyses were important for country decision making to either continue or stop mass drug administration and for Onchocerciasis Elimination Mapping (OEM). Working at ESPEN has transformed me from an intern to a professional biologist. My mentors played a big part in this transformation.

The old English adage goes “a leader is born not made.” I might beg to differ with this adage. In the short time I have been a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I have transformed into a budding leader. I have been mentored well and shown how to lead. One time when most of the staff had gone for missions out of the country, I led the lab and made sure work went on just fine. I also helped coordinate schistosomiasis vector sites prospection between the ESPEN lab and the Burkina Faso ministry of health. This is the time I learnt that leaders can be made. It is apparent that I am on a leadership course. Before I started at ESPEN, I had not experienced communities directly using river and pond waters for their daily needs including cooking, washing clothes and bathing. Moreover, children are still defecating near the rivers and playing in the water! This was the reality I faced during our tour for prospection of schistosomiasis vector breeding sites. I was shocked about that, and I got motivated to help these communities access decent healthcare.     

To say the least, I have gained valuable work and life experience during the short time I have worked at the ESPEN laboratory in Ouagadougou. I have been greatly challenged and motivated at the same time. In fact, I have enjoyed my time as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow. I am so grateful to the Hilton Prize Coalition and the Task Force for Global Health for this opportunity and their continual support.

(Photos courtesy of The Task Force for Global Health: Human activities on the banks of a small river in Panamasso, Bobo-Dioulasso (BURKINA FASO))

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. 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.

Finding New Ways to Promote Disability Rights: HPC Fellow, Elizabeth Heideman, Humanity & Inclusion


Elizabeth Heideman is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with the Inclusive Livelihoods and Global Health unit at Humanity & Inclusion (HI). At HI, she was responsible for supporting a large internal capacity development initiative and HI’s engagement with the 25th International Conference on Population and Development. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

They say that stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing, but when you’re a recent master’s graduate who’s always been advised to “Specialize!” throughout your early career, the idea of gaining work experience in an unfamiliar sector can feel risky.

Over the summer, I was feeling confident about my specialization. After completing my MA in Human Rights the previous December, I looked forward to establishing a career in research and advocacy—particularly related to the rights of persons with disabilities within international law and the UN system. Little did I know that Humanity & Inclusion (HI) would take me out of my comfort zone twice before year’s end.

In July, I learned that HI was recruiting a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow to support its Inclusive Livelihoods team. HI had long been one of my top organizations, leading the development and humanitarian sector in its work to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups. I had always dreamed of joining the organization—perhaps in an advocacy-related capacity or something similar. I knew I could not pass up this opportunity, but a fellowship related to economics and market-based inclusion was definitely outside my comfort zone.

Soon, I was lucky enough to join the Livelihoods team as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow and got to work learning about the important work that HI does to provide economic opportunity to persons with disabilities in over 35 countries. Globally, there are more than 1 billion people living with disabilities, and they remain the world’s largest minority group. Eighty percent of people with disabilities live in developing countries, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that the global unemployment rate for this marginalized group is as high as 80%. Understandably, poverty and particularly extreme poverty are major harms facing persons with disabilities.

To combat this, HI provides communities with services that include inclusive employment opportunities, vocational training, and pro-poor value chain analyses in order to identify untapped market potential for marginalized community members. As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I was responsible for a large internal capacity development initiative—creating a series of strategic communications materials that analyzed the scope and methodology of the Livelihoods team project portfolio. This involved reviewing the donor reports, log frames, and technical narratives of over 70 different HI projects in the field.

I could not have asked for a better introduction to HI’s work in the livelihoods sector. Reviewing and synthesizing these technical materials proved the perfect means of learning about economic inclusion, and my HI supervisor and teammates were always happy to provide me with “Economics 101” crash courses. Not only did my technical knowledge of the development sector expand, but also through my time as a fellow, I was able to create communications materials that analyzed HI’s work through the human rights lens that I brought with me from my own specialization. I completed my fellowship with the Livelihoods unit at HI excited for my next steps and armed with my new technical knowledge, ready for my next challenge.

The thing about stepping out of your comfort zone, though, is that once you take that first step, it becomes much easier to take your second one. Shortly after I completed my Hilton Prize Coalition fellowship with the Livelihoods team, I was invited back for that second step—an additional fellowship with HI. This time, I would be supporting the Global Health unit, focusing on gender, age, and disability-inclusion within sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

For the second time, I eagerly stepped into my fellowship without having a specific background in the technical sector, anticipating the opportunity to learn as I went along. Only this time, the opportunity to learn on the job involved getting on a plane to Nairobi, Kenya!

As part of the Global Health unit, I supported HI’s engagement with the 25th International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)—a global summit that was held in Nairobi in mid-November and which promoted universal access to SRH, the rights of women and girls, and inclusive global development aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here, I had the honor of leading a delegation of youth activists with disabilities from the East African region to the ICPD, promoting the voices of young persons with disabilities and ensuring that the ICPD left no one behind. While in Nairobi as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I gained on-the-ground knowledge of inclusive SRH as well as hands-on experience in programme management and logistics support.

My time in Nairobi had such an impact on me that I am now considering jobs in East Africa and asking myself what specific contributions I could make to the disability rights movement within the region. Though I never anticipated applying my specialty in international law and human rights to global health initiatives, this fellowship has allowed me to explore new potential avenues for utilizing my human rights training in different sectors. I truly can’t wait to see what lies ahead for me in my early career and know that no matter what unanticipated twists or turns my career takes, any chance to learn and grow will only make me a better advocate in promoting human rights, equality, and inclusion.

Oh, and my comfort zone? It is much larger now, thanks to my Hilton Prize Coalition fellowship.

(Pictured above is the delegation attending the ICPD25 Summit in Nairobi, Kenya)

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. 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.

Welcome Cohort Four! BRAC USA, Jake Konig

The Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program seeks to develop a robust pipeline of leaders who possess not only subject matter skills and expertise, but also the soft leadership skills needed to succeed in the workplace, and who understand and value the importance of collaboration for humanitarian and development organizations to increase effectiveness throughout the sector. 

This year the Coalition ushers in the next cohort of Fellows. Jake Konig is one such Fellow joining Coalition member BRAC USA, an organization whose mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease, and social injustice.

Read on to meet Jake and learn how he will plug into BRAC USA in order to grow as a future humanitarian leader over the course of his fellowship. 

WHAT WILL YOUR ROLE BE AT BRAC USA? 

I will be supporting the Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative as it works to empower the world’s extreme poor. In addition, I will be supporting humanitarian efforts as BRAC serves the Rohingya in the Cox’s Bazar camps in Bangladesh.

WHAT ABOUT  BRAC USA’S MISSION APPEALS TO YOU? 

BRAC USA, being a part of the wider BRAC family, tirelessly works to create a world free from all forms of exploitation and discrimination. It is also where everyone has the opportunity to realize his or her potential. This is the exact mission I am passionate about aligning myself with as I move forward in my career as a development professional.

YOU ARE A PART OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF HUMANITARIAN LEADERS. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO LEAVE A MARK AT BRAC USA? 

I plan to continue providing value at BRAC USA through supporting the sector’s best and brightest development professionals as they work on an innovative initiative with the end goal of ending poverty in all forms, everywhere.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. 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.

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