HPC Fellow: Mia Perez, BRAC USA

Mia Perez is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with BRAC USA. At BRAC USA, Mia worked on the Learning, Empowerment, and Adolescent Development (LEAD) team in support of BRAC’s education and girls’ empowerment programs in Africa and Asia. In her blog, Mia reflects upon how the BRAC Play Lab Project utilizes community-led decision-making.

Confronting Global Educational Inequity and Enabling Children to Reclaim their Fundamental Right to Quality Education
By: Mia Perez

My experience navigating the American education system has deeply informed how I conceive of educational access and opportunity.

As a first-generation college graduate, I firmly believe in the power of educational access and opportunity. However, having attended a public school with a 40% dropout rate and a private boarding high school with a $318 million endowment, I am uncomfortably familiar with the reality of inequitable access to quality education.

While I am fortunate to have accessed a quality education, my story is not the common one, nor is it proof of a well-functioning meritocratic system. Instead, my experience of the two vastly different worlds of educational possibility unveils a system that unabashedly asserts education is a privilege and not a right.

After pursuing a Master’s in International Affairs and development, my experience has come full-circle. Education has enabled me to name and disrupt systems of inequity and has rerouted my trajectory towards supporting programs that help children and youth reclaim their fundamental right to education.

After completing my masters degree, I had the opportunity to begin my career in international development as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow at BRAC USA, an affiliate of BRAC, a global leader in developing and implementing cost-effective, evidence-based programs to assist the most marginalized people in extremely poor and post-disaster settings. At BRAC USA, I have worked on the Learning, Empowerment, and Adolescent Development (LEAD) team in support of BRAC’s education and girls’ empowerment programs in Africa and Asia.

As a southern-led NGO, BRAC is an expert at promoting community-led programs that not only bolster the voice and agency of poor and disadvantaged communities, but champions them as a part of the solution. This development approach, particularly in developing countries which are often made dependent on conditional foreign aid, is particularly powerful. Unlike BRAC’s approach, the majority of education policies that I have witnessed are seldom reflective of community need. In many cases, they deny people their agency and right to a quality education.

Community-led decision-making and program design is core to the BRAC Play Lab Project, a program that I have spent a good deal of time working with while at BRAC. In collaboration with the LEGO Foundation, the BRAC Play Lab project provides a low-cost, high-quality, play-based early childhood development (ECD) model for children aged 3 to 5 in Uganda, Tanzania, and Bangladesh. Play Lab activities are complemented by deep community engagement and advocacy. BRAC has trained 480 adolescent girls from local communities as Play Leaders for the Play Labs, creating a new career track for girls and young women in the community, and boosting the local ECD workforce. Play Labs engage volunteer caregivers in Play Labs, facilitating monthly parent meetings and material development workshops to create low-cost, contextually appropriate play materials for Play Labs.

Beyond the Play Lab project’s community-led model, the Play Lab model also ensures children are able to reclaim their right to quality education. Research evidence around the role of play-based learning in a child’s development of socio-emotional, executive function, resilience, and self-regulation skills has made the BRAC Play Lab project even more instrumental in transforming the lives of children in the communities BRAC serves. These outcomes are particularly important in ensuring that children in low-resource settings have the educational foundation to ease the transition into primary school, set the foundation for future success, and prevent school dropout rates from climbing as high as they were in the community where I grew up.

As I reflect on my time at BRAC, and the future of educational access and opportunities, I am hopeful about the direction the field is going. Most recently, I have been working on the BRAC Play Lab Toolkit, which will equip BRAC’s partners, governments, and international early childhood development stakeholders with the tools to learn from, adopt, and contextualize the BRAC Play Lab model at scale. Community-led early education models enable communities to claim their right to educate their children and access the tools and training to teach and advocate for early education at the local level. Promoting these models among governments is key to a future of widespread access to quality, sustainable education.

It is this vision of widespread international access to quality education and my work at BRAC USA through the Hilton Prize Coalition fellowship that moves me to continue to equip myself with the knowledge and needs of disparate worlds; and to continue to connect resources and advocate for every individual’s right to receive a quality education.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

HPC Fellow: Rita Kuman, Tostan

Rita Kuman is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with Tostan. At Tostan, Rita helped to develop a knowledge management system that will allow new team members to reduce their ramp up time, capture more learnings of long term staff, and help Tostan scale their learning using some newer channels. In her blog, Rita reflects upon her work to improve information management and collaboration at Tostan.

Knowledge Management
By: Rita Kuman

Knowledge Management (KM) is a key discipline that is now becoming increasingly popular. There are various definitions of KM, but broadly it focuses on the areas of information management and collaboration for an organization. Good KM practices and approaches should consider these broad areas internally and externally facing.

As a Knowledge Professional with over eighteen years of experience as both a consultant and embedded professional, I have been fortunate to work with some organizations which have complex and diverse needs. Some of those include World Bank, UNDP, GEF, and Adaptation Fund in the public sector and organizations such as Hewlett Packard and Cornerstone On Demand in the private sector. I have also been afforded the opportunity to develop the syllabus for a Masters in Knowledge Management program for the American University in the Emirates. It gives me tremendous joy to be able to help organizations as they consider their knowledge management opportunities and to provide an approach that would be best suited to the culture of their organization.

Some of the key learning and considerations in my experience include ensuring that there is executive sponsorship and ongoing support for a knowledge management program. A big gap has often been the desire to have consultants come in and develop a knowledge strategy and implementation plan; however, organizations often discount the value of having dedicated resources focused on knowledge initiatives and governance on an ongoing basis.

Having the ability to help Tostan think about their current knowledge management gaps and opportunities was meaningful to me because their social cause and mission appealed to me on a human level. I have tremendous respect for the work they do and their history. The people are simply inspiring and the amount of experience and impact they have had in Senegal is of tremendous value from a knowledge perspective.

Tostan’s newly developed knowledge roadmap, which considers key priorities and process changes, will allow new team members to reduce their ramp up time, capture more learning of long term staff, and help them scale their learning using some newer channels.

90% of an organizational institution remains uncaptured, and it leaves the organization when staff either retire or leave the organization for other reasons. It is important for an organization to think about what knowledge needs to be captured, how to capture it, maintain it, and share it.  Knowledge is only truly useful if it results in action or other solutions. This is often complex and does require a lot of consideration.  This can be a key competitive advantage for any organization that takes the time, invests in KM, and builds a program.

KM is something organizations large and small should be considering as each organization has challenges and opportunities and I look forward to working with other organizations to help them get started, benchmark, and evolve their process as they move along their KM journey.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

HPC Fellow: Shazzad Khan, Aravind Eye Care System

Shazzad Khan is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with Aravind Eye Care System. At Aravind Eye Care System, Shazzad helped to set up a team to drive innovation and change across the entire hospital system. This new innovation team will be a source of core innovation skills, such as human-centered design and prototyping. In his blog, Shazzad reflects upon the dedication of staff members and the boldness of the organization’s agenda.

After 8 million cataract surgeries, Aravind looking to innovate even more
By: Shazzad Khan

It was early morning at the gate of Aravind’s hospital in Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu. I stood waiting to catch Dr. Venkatesh, the hospital’s chief medical officer. He walked up briskly, and I hurried to keep pace, knowing that he had a full day ahead of him and no time to waste.

The first surgery started at 7:30AM. Dr. Venkatesh answered my questions as he turned back and forth between beds. On average, one surgery takes him just five minutes. His target is to perform 85 today before lunch, then spend the afternoon on his administrative duties. This efficiency has enabled Aravind to achieve incredible patient volume, with over four million cataract surgeries performed.

This is what leadership looks like at Aravind—an intense, all-encompassing blend of clinical duties and management. Most Sundays, senior leaders can be found observing outreach camps. These camps are one of the most effective ways to connect the 70% of Indians who live in rural places with eye care, and their referrals account for about 35% of the total caseload. Many cannot pay for the surgery, and Aravind treats them for free. To Aravind’s leaders, high volumes enable high quality care. and ensure that all who need care can access it.

It is amazing that at its scale Aravind still inspires a lifelong passion and commitment in so many people. Many people who previously worked at the organization choose to volunteer; I find them in the kitchen, communications team, and everywhere in between. I also meet people who are second-generation members of the Aravind team. Their parents’ passion has become their own; an ethos that they have adopted.

The Hilton Prize Coalition fellowship provided me an opportunity to apply my background in innovation and service design to Aravind. I helped Aravind build an internal innovation team. It was daunting to come to an organization with Aravind’s reputation and scale with the aim of changing it, so I spent most of my summer listening to and observing people in their work. I saw a consistent focus on patients and insistence on excellence permeating all daily activities. Strategic and operational decisions are grounded in clinical realities and evidence. For decades now, the common philosophy and values of the Aravind team have proven an incredibly effective mechanism for keeping the organization moving towards a shared vision.

I found myself focusing on the next generations of leaders. Some observed the organization grow during their lifetime, but they really came into it once it was an established organization, rather than building it from the ground up.

Fundamentally, it comes down to vision: Aravind’s leaders have always had bold ideas for what’s possible. Many large organizations, especially those that are considered successful, fall into the trap of complacency.

What would be the best way of pushing the organization, and protecting that imaginative ability?

During my fellowship, I worked with Aravind to set up a team to drive innovation and change across the entire hospital system. This team supports the senior leaders to identify core priorities for innovation and then implements a variety of activities to engage staff at all levels in the creative process of solution generation. It aims to enrich Aravind’s problem-solving culture and focus staff’s incredible commitment on pressing organizational needs. The innovation team will also be a source of core innovation skills, such as human-centered design and prototyping. Lastly, I sketched the Capability Blueprint,  a map for how Aravind will advance its intent, including governance, innovation portfolio management, innovation process, creating knowledge products, external interfaces, metrics, and other management systems.

I never see Dr. Venkatesh or Aravind’s other leaders slow down. He makes time to sit with the new batch of post-graduate students who join from different regions of India—a weekly session where he shares Aravind’s wisdom through storytelling. It is in listening to these stories that I find the most important lesson that I will take away with me, which is that leaders are those that not only envision a better world with their continuous innovations, but dedicate every possible minute to making it possible. When thousands of people believe this and work together, it is amazing what they can achieve.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

HPC Fellow: Abena Agyei-Boateng, SOS Children’s Villages USA

Abena Agyei-Boateng is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with SOS Children’s Villages USA Abena worked closely with the Marketing and Communications department to produce ads, monitor social media accounts, and create content for the annual report. In her blog, Abena reflects on her experience combining communications and development work.

My Path to Discovery at SOS Children’s Villages
By Abena Agyei-Boateng

When I first graduated from Ohio University with a Masters in Communication and Development, I was excited at the prospect of making a global difference. I had taken classes in Global health, Public Health, Social Media Analytics, and International Development and was excited at the prospect of becoming a global leader in the development sector. However, I was confronted with the challenge of matching my skillset to the right organization.

For me, finding the right organization with a mission that I believed in and that I could identify with was very important. This is why I was extremely excited to find out about the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows position at SOS Children’s Villages USA. I was even more excited when my application to become a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow was accepted. My experience here at SOS Children’s Villages has been a path to self-discovery. I have had the opportunity to learn how I can harness my strengths to complement my weaknesses. I have had the opportunity to clarify the kind of professional that I want to be and have gained the hard skills I need to become an expert in my field.

Growing up in West Africa, Ghana, I knew all about SOS Children’s Villages and the work they were doing to support orphaned and abandoned children in 135 countries, including the United States. Thus, I was excited to have the opportunity to work for them. One thing that surprised me, however, was the depth of the work they did in these countries. I learned that they did not only offer long-term care to orphaned and abandoned children, but they also had work that focused on strengthening vulnerable families and communities, educating and empowering youth, and advocating for children’s rights.

My work here at SOS Children’s Villages encompassed many roles in different capacities. I began by working with the Director of Marketing and Communications on a pro bono ad project with PSP magazine. I also worked on researching partnership opportunities for the organization and was involved in the planning and content creation of the annual report. I also had the opportunity to manage the social media pages of SOS Children’s Villages USA. This was a great opportunity for me because it was a project that I was able to lead. I created posts for all their platforms then monitored and reported key metrics to the Director of Integrated Marketing. I also had the privilege of working with a team of interns to host a happy hour fundraiser that raised double of what our goal was!

One thing that I can say about my time at SOS Children’s Villages USA is that there was never a dull moment at the office. There was always a project to take on, or there was always someone to support. This made me feel like part of the team, and I quickly got invested in the mission of the organization. An example of this is when all the fellows and interns came together to plan and execute a fundraising campaign. Although we hadn’t been in the organization for long, we believed that our efforts would make a difference in the lives of children all over the world, and for us that made all the difference.

I am grateful for the time that I have spent here with the team at SOS Children’s Villages USA and will always remember the skills and experience that I learned while working with them.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

HPC Fellow: Megha Seehra, Operation Smile

Megha Seehra is a current Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with Operation Smile Megha worked closely with the Patient Recruitment team and  oversaw hospitality for medical and non-medical volunteers visiting the mission site in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. In her blog, Megha talks about the power of partnering with local organizations.

Patient Recruitment Techniques
By Megha Seehra

Operation Smile was introduced to me by our very close family friend when I was in the second year of my college.  A medical mission for cleft lip and cleft palate patients was being held in Panskura, West Bengal. As students play a very vital role during missions, I joined as a translator for our international volunteers and attended my very first medical mission. While attending this mission, I realized how a small effort of mine could bring a smile to a kid and their family. My whole perspective of serving our society changed. Though I had attended several medical missions in India, it was my role and responsibilities as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow that exposed me to patient recruitment process that I never imagined pursuing before the fellowship.

With a vision to express my thoughts in the most creative way possible, I obtained my degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. During my fellowship, I learned that reading communication is one thing, but actually applying those skills is an art, just as theory is different from practicality. Though I was aware of some pre-screening camp techniques with local nonprofit organizations prior to my fellowship, working from the very beginning of the patient cycle helped me to understand the mind-set of every patient. I was able to see situations they go through in their daily life.

Operation Smile Patient Recruitment and Patient Motivation Team at mission site.

According to Operation Smile research, more than 35,000 patients are born each year with cleft lip and cleft palate in India alone. The estimated number of untreated patients is more than a million. Raipur, Chhattisgarh, is a new site where Operation Smile is working, so one can imagine how many patients are still waiting to have access to their safe surgery. The most difficult aspect of working in a new site is that most of the local charitable organizations and community clubs are currently unaware of this deformity. They were quite unsure how they could help us.

When Operation Smile opened in Raipur, the Patient Recruitment team took the responsibility of not only explaining what is cleft lip and cleft palate is to these local organizations, but the team also trained. Equipped with a full strategy plan to follow, these organizations can now help us in reaching more patients. One of the most challenging parts of this strategy was to motivate patients and their families as they were afraid and unaware about the pros of having a safe surgery, but this collaboration allowed us to have a broader community reach. Local organizations paved the way and explained to their people how Operation Smile came in Raipur to help those in need.

For my fellowship, I had to conduct area mapping, identify partner selection, assist pre-screening camp setup, and motivate patients. Similarly, I actively participated in maintaining logistics and documented the non-medical part of the patient care, which includes patient transportation, accommodation, patient food, and scheduling  announcements. Due to patient situations constantly shifting in the field, my mentor, Soumen Dey Malakar, Program Manager , Operation Smile India, taught me to look for and understand patient sensitivity, community member’s mind-sets, as well as work culture and work techniques. While most of our plans went as we expected, at times we had to make last minute changes, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the region we visited. Though my main responsibility was assisting Patient Recruitment team I also took care of the hospitality for our medical and non-medical volunteers visiting the mission site.

I am grateful for the Hilton Prize Coalition and Operation Smile for investing on me. This opportunity and constant support from both organizations throughout my fellowship helped me to develop a passion towards this field. Leaving this fellowship, I’m ready to utilize my improved knowledge in NGO field work.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

HPC Fellow: Amy Roll, PATH

Amy Roll is a current Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with Path Amy is pursuing her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Global Health from the University of Washington and graduated with a BA in French and International Affairs from the University of Puget Sound. In her blog, Amy reflects on her experience researching improved cookstoves. She also supported PATH, The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and The Bridge Collaborative in bringing together expertise across the health, environment, and development disciplines to develop recommendations for clean fuel and improved cookstove research and programs.

Clean Cookstoves Protect Women, their Families, and the Environment
By Amy Roll

Do you ever stop to think about how amazing an oven is? You turn a switch and suddenly you can heat up a machine to 350 degrees, pop some food in, and eat it 30 minutes later. I love to cook—it helps me relax after a long day of work, and I enjoy the challenge of trying out a new recipe. What I never have to think about when using this miracle machine is inhaling dangerous amounts of pollution or burning myself.

For nearly three billion people, primarily in resource-poor settings, cooking is a dangerous and time-consuming daily chore. Wood, dung, and charcoal are solid fuels that provide cheap energy to cook over open fires. However, this cheap energy comes at a great cost to people’s health and the environment. Household air pollution from solid fuels is one of the greatest environmental health risks that disproportionately affects women, the members of society who are often responsible for cooking and caretaking. The time spent gathering fuel wood and cooking results in economic costs as women are not able to invest in income-generating activities, and children may be pulled away from school work. Furthermore, children exposed to solid fuels are at risk of respiratory infection, low birth weight, stunting, anemia, and burns. Dependency on solid fuels contributes to deforestation and dangerous levels of indoor and outdoor air pollution.

The Bridge Collaborative is a partnership across health, environment, and development sectors spearheaded by four founding organizations: The Nature Conservancy, PATH, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and Duke University. I am working with PATH and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to identify interventions using improved cookstoves that will have a positive impact on health, environment, and development outcomes. Our goal is to engage researchers, practitioners, and policymakers across sectors to come up with tangible policies and programs that promote the use of clean fuels and improved cookstoves.

PATH is a leader in global health innovation—When I think of PATH, I think of everything from technologies and tools to vaccines and diagnostics that the organization has developed to make health care more accessible and affordable in resource-poor settings. Thus, I was excited to see PATH at the forefront of thinking about integrating health, conservation, and development and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with the Nutrition Innovation team, which leads the Bridge Collaborative activities.

Before this fellowship and my MPH at the University of Washington, I lived in Uganda and worked at Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)—a local nonprofit that believes that health and conservation are interconnected. CTPH programs focus primarily on improving health and sanitation to reduce zoonotic disease transmission between communities and animals living around Uganda’s protected areas. While I was at CTPH, I oversaw the development of their cookstove program. In the communities we worked with, many people traveled into protected areas to collect fuelwood to cook over the traditional three-stone fires. CTPH’s goal was to introduce an improved biomass cookstove program that would improve health and lower pressure on the forests by burning biomass more efficiently. Most importantly, I met women who believed these new stoves would improve their family’s health and help them save time that they could spend working on other projects.

Although I am no longer in Uganda, I can’t forget how such a seemingly small thing like a new stove can transform people’s lives. This has inspired me during my fellowship with PATH. I reviewed more than 70 studies and reports, analyzed the information, and created a literature review that informed a technical working group meeting, comprised of cookstove, health, environment, and development experts. My goal is for the information I collected to help inform experts as they make research, program, and policy recommendations around improved cookstoves and clean fuels.

I’m a believer in an interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral future of global health; we can no longer think about health as separate from the environment and development sectors. The Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program has given me the opportunity to support this growing movement spearheaded by the Bridge Collaborative. I am excited for my continued professional growth at the intersection of health and the environment.

Tonight, when I fire up my stove, I’ll be thinking of the women for whom cooking is one of the most dangerous and insidiously life-threatening activities they undertake. I hope that in a small part, my work this past spring and summer can help make cooking safer for women, their families, and the environment.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

Congratulations to the Newest Hilton Prize Laureate, SHOFCO

Please join the Hilton Prize Coalition in congratulating the newest winner of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities). As the 23rd recipient of the Prize, SHOFCO joins the ranks of the world’s most accomplished humanitarian organizations—the Hilton Prize Laureates—who over the course of the past two decades have been recognized for their extraordinary contributions to the alleviation of human suffering.

SHOFCO is a grassroots movement that catalyzes large-scale transformation in urban slums. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the organization provides critical services that disrupt the survival model—giving people the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive. SHOFCO’s programs, which include health care, economic empowerment, and sustainable delivery of clean water through a cutting-edge aerial piping system, are always demand-driven and community led. Through collective community action, SHOFCO creates sustainable, systemic change within urban informal settlements.

It is this spirit of innovation that unites the Hilton Prize Coalition, as members continue to explore solutions together through collaborative initiatives that leverage the expertise of each Laureate. We welcome and look forward to working with SHOFCO.

For more information, please see the Conread N. Hilton Foundation’s press release and this announcement video.

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

HPC Fellow: Rounida Shwaish, Women for Women International

Rounida Shwaish is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow at Women for Women International. As a Fellow, Rounida focused on capacity building, the evolving role of human resources departments, and learning management systems. In her blog, Rounida reflects upon her time at Women for Women International and their global HR retreat.

Capacity Building in Developing Countries
By: Rounida Shwaish

My background has been in community organizing, social justice, and activism. I was a sociology major in undergrad and went into the nonprofit sector right after I graduated.

It wasn’t until late last year that my experiences in nonprofits inspired me to begin a career in human resource management. My experience has shown me that nonprofits need to empower their employees and enhance their skillsets. If employees are able to bring the best skills and resources to their work, a nonprofit is able to meet its mission more successfully and effectively. To do this sustainably, there has to be investment in human capital, which requires shifting the public perception that a nonprofit needs to put every single penny into meeting the mission and serving their target population. Often, nonprofits look to the private sector for their expertise. But, I think that the nonprofit and private sectors have a lot to learn from each other.

Rounida presenting on learning management and capacity building at the annual Women for Women Global HR retreat

I’ve always been a champion of Women for Women International’s (WfWI) mission. WfWI supports the most marginalized women to earn and save money, improve health and well-being, influence decisions in their home and community, and connect to networks for support. As a Hilton Prize Coalition fellow, I had the chance to explore global human resources at WfWI. During my fellowship in the human resources department, I specifically focused on capacity building and e-learning. A decade ago human resource professionals were seen as paper pushers responsible for keeping records and implementing policies. With technology the role of HR has shifted drastically. Today human resource professionals are increasing employee engagement, strengthening company culture, and managing talent. At the start of my fellowship, I traveled to the Women for Women office in Kosovo and participated in WfWI’s global HR retreat. Through this I met HR professionals across the globe and gained exposure to the unique challenges and opportunities in global HR. On my last day in Kosovo, I presented an overview of the research I was doing around implementing a learning management system.

One idea I took time to define was the term capacity building. It has meant different things over the years, and in the world of NGOs it has become a hot topic. So, what does capacity building really mean? Capacity building is used to describe a range of activities used to expand and strengthen an organization. The UN describes it as the ability of individuals, institutions, and societies to perform functions, solve problems, and set and achieve objectives in a sustainable manner. In humanitarian work, the focus is on serving and empowering disadvantaged communities.

Capacity building is done by dedicated employees who want to make a difference in their countries despite facing severe obstacles. In developing countries, NGOs aren’t just filling the gap, they are going beyond that to innovate and adapt. This involves using tools to strengthen a society and the society’s public sector as a whole. That is where e-learning comes in. Usually, we hear about the universities and corporations making innovations in human capital development. And often times, it is the technologically advanced countries making these innovations.

Women for Women International staff enjoying a meal together during the HR retreat in Kosovo

Naturally, it was the technologically advanced countries that cultivated e-learning, simply defined as learning that takes place online. Because NGOs are going beyond just filling the gap in developing countries, they are the perfect vessel to triumphantly deliver e-learning to developing countries that have limited technological resources for education.

E-learning has seen a lot of success in the U.S. and Europe, but there are many challenges in implementing and maintaining such a system in developing countries. Imagine how valuable it would be for NGOs to invest in e-learning for their employees to continue to develop their humanitarian employees into humanitarian leaders that can lead and make changes in their countries and societies for years to come. NGOs champion empowerment for the general public. E-learning for NGO’s should be about empowerment for the employees that serve the general public.

(Photos courtesy of Women for Women International)

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

UN anti-torture body calls on Chile to improve existing rehabilitation services to torture survivors

This piece was originally published by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT).

Following a comprehensive review, the UN Committee against Torture called on the government of Chile to support victims of torture by improving existing rehabilitation services through increased resources, capacity building and services.

During its military dictatorship, hundreds of thousands of Chileans were tortured, executed, imprisoned, sent to concentration camps or forced into exile. Many victims continue to suffer grave physical, psychological and social consequences today. Victims have shorter life expectancy, often suffer from depression, anxiety or PTSD, and struggle to find work to sustain themselves and their families.

For over 30 years, Chilean IRCT member centre, CINTRAS, has helped victims of past and present-day torture to rebuild their lives. They do this by providing a tailored assistance to survivors including psychological counselling, social support and medical treatment.

In an effort to get the Chilean government to take more responsibility for providing rehabilitation support to torture victims, CINTRAS briefed the UN Committee against Torture to ensure that the experiences and needs of victims were adequately addressed in its review of Chile. Based on data collected from their clients, CINTRAS showed that more than two-thirds of its clients have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are therefore in need of appropriate and specialised rehabilitation. CINTRAS stressed to the Committee that, although the state had implemented a national rehabilitation programme (known as PRAIS), there was a lack of adequate resources, excessive staff rotations and an absence of specialised trainings for medical professionals.

“Our clients tell us that they feel let down by the State,” said Jose Miguel Guzman, Executive Director of CINTRAS. “Repeatedly having to recount traumatic experiences to potentially untrained staff who lack the expertise to treat them means that many of our clients continue to suffer. That’s why the emphasis on rehabilitation is so important in the Committee’s recommendations”.

Based on CINTRAS’ information, the Committee extensively questioned the Chilean delegation on what could be done to improve its support to victims of torture and concluded by issuing detailed recommendations, which provide a roadmap for better support in the years to come.

In its Concluding Observations, the Committee recommended that Chile:

  • Enact concrete measures to increase funding and services of the national rehabilitation programme (known as PRAIS) as well as provide specialised training in torture trauma to all those involved in the provision of services.
  • Ensure that victims can seek adequate compensation through judicial mechanisms for torture they experienced during the dictatorship.
  • Implement a system of monitoring and evaluation of its rehabilitation programme and systematically collect data on the number of victims and their specific rehabilitation needs.
  • Ensure that the Comprehensive Health Care and Reparation Program has duly trained specialized personnel and the necessary material resources for its proper functioning, and consider the expansion of its benefits and services.
  • Repeal the amnesty law of 1978.
  • Ensure that all medical personnel working on complaints of torture are trained in the Istanbul Protocol to guarantee that allegations of torture are effectively investigated.

“We are pleased to see that the Chilean government is willing to engage in constructive dialogue with international experts and local partners to improve the existing rehabilitation programme,” said Asger Kjaerum, Director of Advocacy of the IRCT. “Given how urgent this is for the individual victims, we urge the government to make this issue a priority and to take immediate practical steps to implementing these recommendations”

Photos courtesy of Carlos Teixidor Cadenas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57041714

HPC Fellow: Lauren Perkins, Humanity & Inclusion U.S.

Lauren Perkins is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with the U.S. office of Humanity & Inclusion. Under Dr. Alessandra Aresu, Lauren worked on global health initiatives, addressing gender-based violence, sexual reproductive health, and non-communicable diseases.

Inclusivity: Gender and Disability Rights
By: Lauren Perkins

I am humbled and honored to be a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow for the summer of 2018, and here is why. It is and always will be about the people. The remarkable crew of 14 in the U.S. office of Humanity & Inclusion is no exception. They work to ease the world’s most pressing emergencies, promote disability rights, provide rehabilitation, and help protect thousands in vulnerable populations in development and fragile settings. In order to help some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, the U.S. team works in coordination with the larger Humanity & Inclusion Network, alongside other NGOs, organizations of persons with disabilities, and an array of stakeholders. It is with their far-reaching assistance, and collaborative development and emergency models, that I understand their world-renowned reputation.

The team has shown me respect for my previous field experience with refugees and an appreciation for my Masters of Science in Gender in Development and Political Economics. The office not only shows me respect, but respect for themselves, and their respect reflects in the work they do around the world for others. They practice the belief that all people should live in a world of dignity and respect, often focusing on those who are the most discriminated against.

Initially, I had heard about Humanity & Inclusion while I was an Education in Emergencies intern in Amman, Jordan, with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). During this time, a representative from Humanity & Inclusion spoke about promoting and engaging disability rights in refugee camps. Her message resonated with me, and I immediately wanted to learn more about their transformative practices that put a focus on vulnerable populations and people with disabilities to address the root causes of inequalities. At the time, I was working to assist with inclusive education programs for children in UNRWA’s field schools, which presently have a higher rate of children with disabilities than in prior years. Upon returning to the United States, I heard about an opportunity to be a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with Humanity & Inclusion, and became particularly intrigued about the chance to see from within their respected international nonprofit organization.

To my excitement, I was chosen as the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow to work on global health initiatives with our respected Global Health Lead, Dr. Alessandra Aresu. We tackled issues that I distinctly care about and have dedicated my past and present experiences to this line of development work: gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health.

After my time with the United Nations, HI was a perfect fit. It was exciting to know my responsibilities in both Lebanon and Jordan would be relevant .  It was a full circle moment to read about HI’s demining, rehabilitation, and global health work in the very regions where I assisted in refugee camps with similar communications task. For example, at both UNRWA and HI-US, I had researched and written on humanitarian policy information and produced company-wide pamphlets. The HI pamphlets in particular focus on disability rights in relation to gender-based violence, sexual reproductive health, and non-communicable diseases. These pamphlets have been shown at global conferences such as the CORE Group Health Practitioner Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, the European Development Days in Brussels, Belgium, and the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. I created HI communication pamphlets, highlighting HI’s impact on people with disabilities in the global south context and the disproportionately lower care and access to care they often receive. Therefore, I have been excited to help shine a light on the lack of inclusion to people with disabilities in the humanitarian and development space and to promote change and inclusionary practices.

A day in the office researching for pamphlet creation.

Furthermore, my Masters in Development from the School or Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London has prepared me for comprehensive approaches in development focusing on the intersectionality of gender and development, which has been useful for my work with HI-US. For example, I learned that out of the general population, women and girls with a disability are twice more likely to experience gender-based violence than those without a disability, similar statistics also apply to children with a disability. This level of intersection between gender and development in HI’s research reiterated I was where I needed to be to keep going forward in this line of work.

Through this fellowship, I have gained invaluable insights into development and have engaged in HI’s tailored and innovative work to promote inclusivity of gender and disability rights to the world’s most vulnerable.

As nothing lasts forever, my HI-US fellowship was nearing its end, just when, I received news that I had been offered a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow extension to keep with my efforts in working with the HI-US team for a bit longer! Presently, I am elated and very excited for the opportunity to carry on good work. Today, I am already working in Adobe InDesign for our latest Colombia demining factsheet. Thank you Hilton Prize Coalition for making it possible to be where I need to be, working with whom I needed to work with, and providing me the chance to contribute to inclusivity in development.

To learn more about Humanity & Inclusion and my role as a Fellow, check out the informational one-pagers that I created to encourage other organizations to make their projects more inclusive:

About The Hilton Prize Coalition

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

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

Subscribe to the HPC Newsletter