HPC Fellow: Daniela Muenzel, ECPAT International

Daniela Muenzel is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with ECPAT International. At ECPAT International, Daniela worked alongside the communications team on their social media channels. In her blog, Daniela reflects upon how her work and ECPAT’s World Tourism Day campaign inspire ECPAT’s audience to take action against child exploitation. 

How to spend all day on Facebook and get work done
Daniela Muenzel

After 8 months of working with an NGO in Nepal, I knew I wanted to continue my career in international development work. But the desire to continue doing work where I could directly engage with communities and everyday people, coupled with a sense of inadequacy when I went on fieldtrips where I could contribute little due to the language barrier, had me wondering about how I should proceed. Whilst very aware of the issues of both brain-drain and need for more localized skills development and utilization, being of Japanese and German heritage and having moved around the world since I was 2 years old, I never knew where I would pursue a career in my “own context”.

But from marine engineering to psychology, public health, and then child rights, the one thread that has been running through my personal and career lifespan had been my interest in people. Having worked with the elderly, disabled people and other marginalized communities and individuals, I learned how to build relationships and communicate with a wide range of people. Over the years I have realized that my ability to connect with individuals from various backgrounds and cultures was a unique strength that I should build on in my professional career.

In the midst of such reflection and contemplation, I was offered the placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with ECPAT International’s Communications Team.

Communications with the public is a key component of charity and international development work. It is not only a tool for awareness raising, advocacy, fundraising, or network building, but should be employed for public mobilization and involvement in planning, implementation, and improvement of the work organizations do. But often research findings, policies, and other crucial information are limited to high level, technical language, and even though efforts are ongoing to reach the masses through campaign efforts, a lot more can be done to fully engage and involve those communities to whom it matters most.

From my previous experience in advocacy and community engagement, I learned that it is crucial to take active approaches such as providing information in an accessible way, without technical jargon, and to give people something they can actually do something with to support the cause, instead of numbers that might shock them for a moment before they move on with their lives.

ECPAT’s 104 worldwide member organizations aim to end child trafficking and sexual exploitation globally.  The communications team at ECPAT uses various methods such as social media streams, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as media and relationships with member organizations, to strengthen partnerships, awareness raising, public mobilization, and advocacy efforts worldwide. Striking the balance between communicating and engaging with impact, while maintaining a sensitive approach to a topic as dreadful as child sexual exploitation can be a challenge. Highlighting trends and news on child sexual exploitation on a daily basis can be mentally exhausting, and with our success measured by the number of likes, shares and comments, it is sometimes difficult to grasp the ground level impact my work has.

But when I think about how our most recent World Tourism Day campaign, which aims to raise awareness among tourists and travelers on how to recognize potential victims and motivates them to report potential cases, I get a sense of what can be achieved by hours spent developing creative, attention grabbing content, and running those campaigns on Facebook. If even a handful of the nearly half a million people who we reached through the campaign are now more likely to speak up, and could remove even one child from a life of exploitation, that already makes my work incredibly rewarding.

I am grateful to the Hilton Prize Coalition and ECPAT International for the opportunity. The training opportunities such as the “Social Media in Emergencies” webinar provided by the Hilton Prize Coalition have been particularly helpful, allowing me to further learn how communications could be applied in various contexts. The experience has given me the base for an important step to come up with a focused aspiration to develop my professional skills and experience in communications, allowing me to integrate my multicultural background, passion for interpersonal relationships and people, and writing and creative abilities, to find my role within international development work.

(Photos courtesy of ECPAT 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.

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