Posts Tagged ‘Disaster Relief’

Fall 2016 Fellow: Sheetal Tuladhar, BRAC USA, Nepal

(Sheetal Tuladhar at bottom row left, with BRAC ELA club members)

Ms. Sheetal Tuladhar is currently a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with BRAC, the largest development organization in the world, which is devoted to empowering people living in poverty. Originally from Kathmandu, Nepal, she received her Master’s Degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University in 2014. In this blog post, Sheetal writes about her experience working in Nepal after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes, establishing BRAC as an INGO in the country, and the programs that have provided her with first-hand experience in the world of international development. Sheetal is also featured in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program documentary “On Shifting Ground.”

In April and May 2015, two massive earthquakes and numerous aftershocks shook Nepal. Fast asleep in my Brooklyn apartment, I began to receive frantic calls from my Nepali friends living in the U.S. around 3:00 a.m. What followed was a series of attempts to call my parents and family back home in Kathmandu, without any success. Photos and videos started pouring in on social media of buildings and ancient cultural heritage sites collapsing and reducing to rubble. At the time I thought, everything is gone.

I had just finished a three-month internship with BRAC USA. As an eager and fresh Master’s graduate in Sustainable International Development, I was looking for opportunities to work in the development sector for an organization that had meaningful and true impact in the lives of poor people. Within a week of the earthquake, I received a call from BRAC USA to go to Nepal to help set up BRAC International’s newest office in Kathmandu as a Fellow. As unfortunate as the earthquakes had been, they gave me an opportunity to go back home, and as cliché as it may sound, to make a difference.

When the earthquakes struck Nepal, BRAC was one of the first global organizations to respond. With a six-member team from Bangladesh, the organization set up medical camps in coordination with the Government of Nepal-Ministry of Health and other international organizations, including CARE. Apart from the medical camps providing immediate relief, each BRAC staff member had the opportunity to contribute one day’s salary, and BRAC matched that amount to make a fund of USD 1.5 million to set up operations and work in long-term rehabilitation of earthquake-affected communities in Nepal. Over the next few months, BRAC registered as an INGO in Nepal and began implementing a reconstruction project in Kavre, one of the most affected districts.

During this project, BRAC Nepal built two permanent houses for two widow-headed households in the Sunthan and Charikot villages of Kavre district. At the same time, we launched pilot programs in health, sanitation and youth development to facilitate longer-term rehabilitation in the earthquake-affected community of Shyampati Village Development Committee (VDC) in Kavre. Due to the damages sustained to their toilets during the earthquake, residents of Shyampati were forced to use the forest to relieve themselves. BRAC Nepal is restoring and constructing new toilets to rehabilitate the 265 damaged in the earthquake to make Shyampati an open-defecation-free zone again.

During times of disaster and peace, women and girls are pillars of strength and resilience in the community. They have indeed become an instrumental part of BRAC’s programs in Nepal. Female community health volunteers (FCHVs) are a key component of the health system. Started in 1988 by the Government of Nepal, the FCHVs provide health services to communities in coordination with the VDC. BRAC Nepal is providing trainings to strengthen the capacity of existing FCHVs so that they can better provide health education, preventive and curative health services to their community members.

Another BRAC program in Nepal is known as Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA), which focuses on empowering adolescent girls. This is one of BRAC’s most successful initiatives worldwide and has proved especially valuable in Nepal. Despite a declining trend, child marriage is pervasive across Nepal. Ten percent of women are married before the age of 15, while 37 percent are married by the age of 18. Poverty is both a cause and a result of child marriage. Empowered adolescent girls are able to break the cycle of poverty, unlocking their economic potential through education, life skills and livelihood opportunities. The first of its kind in Nepal, ten ELA clubs have been set up as safe spaces for adolescent girls aged 11-21 to read, play and socialize. Some girls are trained as mentors, and through them, the other girls receive training in health and nutrition, life skills, livelihoods and financial literacy. Over the course of the program, they will also have the opportunity to be linked to microfinance institutions, to take out small loans for any income-generating livelihood activity they like.

To say that this has been a life-changing experience is an understatement. I always wanted to work in Nepal, but my younger self was only slightly aware of the challenges. After returning from eight years of (comfortable) living in the United States, I found myself overwhelmed by the dynamic, haphazard urbanization and population growth of Kathmandu as well as the intricate bureaucracy that must be navigated at every step of our work in Nepal. One day I would be addressing government officials at the national level, another I would be working with local community members to discuss their pressing needs, and then the next I would be meeting donors and INGOs to discuss potential collaborations to add value to the development of Nepal. While learning about my country, I get to learn and grow as an individual, personally and professionally.

As a part of the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program, I had the opportunity be a part of “On Shifting Ground,” a documentary that highlights the role of non-governmental organizations at the time of humanitarian crisis. Now as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, I have the opportunity to enhance my skills as a development practitioner in disaster resilience, learning first-hand how organizations working closely with communities can strengthen their own capacities to build the resilience of their beneficiaries.


(HPC Storytelling Program Director Steve Connors interviews Sheetal Tuladhar with beneficiaries in Nepal, February 2016)

Voices from Nepal: A Ray of Hope

Mr. Sunil Pokhrel is currently the Senior Injury & Rehabilitation Officer and Physiotherapist with Handicap International Nepal. He is responsible for injury management, early detection, health promotion and rehabilitation and assistive device services. Sunil is featured in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program documentary “On Shifting Ground,” sharing the work of Handicap International Nepal before, during and after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. In this piece, he highlights the importance of rehabilitation services and the different collaborations that have occurred across the country since the disaster.

A Ray of Hope

by Sunil Pokhrel

In April 2015, I had been looking forward to presenting for the first time at the largest international gathering of physical therapists, the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) conference, but I canceled my participation. The event was to be held in Singapore just eight days after the earthquake that shook the foundation of my country. I still remember the moment when I faced the dilemma of whether to fly to the event or to be in Nepal and support the country, which had been reduced to rubble. A voice within me directed me to stay and help the 23,000 injured, to be a ray of hope to the broken.

The earthquake was one of the biggest disasters in the history of Nepal. Local, national and international organizations lent their helping hands to respond together. My decision to stay was influenced by the individuals and organizations that have shaped me as a humanitarian working to strengthen my community. Handicap International Nepal has always prioritized preparedness for unexpected disasters, and this work helped to set the tone for the response from the first day. Sarah Blin, the Country Director at the time, provided sound leadership that was instrumental in allowing the organization to respond to the overwhelming demand of injury management and rehabilitation. I was also inspired by SOS Children’s Villages Surkhet – Nepal, the place where I studied from nursery school to 10th grade; it is my second home that inculcated the humanitarian spirit in me right from childhood.

When the earthquake happened, I was immediately sent to work at the largest government teaching hospital, and I still remember those initial heart-wrenching moments. There was limited space and limited resources to respond to the high need to save people’s lives. My role at the hospital was to support the existing medical team, transferring them safely from ambulances to triage zones; to triage injured survivors, bracing the injured parts on the first initial days. Later on, I was tasked to teach exercises, provide assistive devices (crutches, canes, wheelchairs and braces) after proper assessment and user training and to educate the patients and their family members about the need for follow-up rehabilitation.

In Nepal, rehabilitation services are not fully integrated into the healthcare system, but this is a very important part of healthcare, linked with minimizing the complications and preventing the disabling effect of the injury. Demand for rehabilitation exponentially rises in post-disaster scenarios like earthquakes. Working in post-disaster scenarios is especially difficult because the survivors are experiencing psychological trauma as well as physical injuries.

After the earthquake, I was based at the same hospital for almost three months, directly providing services and also supervising the emergency rehabilitation physical therapists recruited later by Handicap International. I met more than 1,000 injured survivors and family members during that time. Most of them came from remote areas in Nepal where rehabilitation services were not available. During the initial days, it was very difficult to convince patients and their family members to get actively engaged in the rehabilitation process as they were in psychological stress due to injury, loss of family members and property. One main focus at that time was to listen, to explain, with examples, the stories of people with disabilities who have succeeded in life. This practice helped to make the exercises and rehabilitation process easier and participative.

Without the patient’s active involvement, rehabilitation is not effective. One woman with a single leg amputation was in deep distress and was not cooperating during the rehabilitation process despite several attempts by our team. We had an idea to facilitate interactions with Ramesh, a boy with a double limb amputation whom we had trained to use a wheelchair. Ramesh explained to her how rehabilitation had helped him, and this was the turning point for the woman to agree to participate in her own rehabilitation process. Not long after that, one of the most unforgettable incidents occurred during the second earthquake on May 12, 2015, when Ramesh transferred himself from his bed to his wheelchair and was able to secure himself in the safe zone downstairs due to the training we had given him just a few days back. I still remember him expressing, with his eyes full of tears, “I would have gone into shock if I didn’t have the wheelchair and the ability to use it to get to safety.” This made me more dedicated and proud, because I felt the immediate impact of my work on the ground.

(Sunil Pokhrel – right – assists a patient during a physiotherapy session)

(Sunil Pokhrel – right – assists a patient during a physiotherapy session)

(Sunil Pokhrel – right – assists a patient during a physiotherapy session)


Today, more than a year after the earthquake, many Nepalese still live with the nightmare of the catastrophic disaster. Through Handicap International, I support physiotherapists based at six earthquake-affected districts. After seeing a gradual decline of patients in Kathmandu hospitals, our focus shifted to the homes of survivors to ensure follow-up care. Rehabilitation requires time, and therefore continuum of care is very important. Rehabilitation units in these districts are providing follow-up care in close collaboration with the Nepalese government through the support of organizations like DFID and USAID.

Though the earthquake was catastrophic in terms of loss of life and property, it provided solid evidence on the importance and relevancy of rehabilitation services in Nepal’s healthcare system. Currently the government of Nepal is working to define long-term strategies and plans for healthcare. Together with HelpAge International, we at Handicap International are providing the technical back up on this work so that health and rehabilitation issues of people with injury/disability and senior citizens are well addressed.

I do not have any regrets on losing an opportunity to present an abstract paper at my first international conference. More opportunities will arise. In fact, I have been selected as a speaker on the symposium titled Physiotherapy in Disasters in July 2017, in Cape Town, South Africa, during which I am going to share my experiences and lessons learned from my involvement after Nepal’s earthquake with the world.

(Sunil Pokhrel with a patient in Nepal)

(Sunil Pokhrel with a patient in Nepal)


Webinar: “On Shifting Ground” Screening & Discussion 8/17


Join us for a free webinar screening of “On Shifting Ground,” the Hilton Prize Coalition’s short documentary about the community response to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 17, 2016
11:30 AM to 12:30 PM (EDT)

“On Shifting Ground” Film: Community Response to the Nepal Earthquake 2015 – Webinar Screening and Discussion
How can storytelling transform the way community organizations work together? Join us for a screening of the Hilton Prize Coalition short documentary, “On Shifting Ground,” featuring six prize-winning development organizations that mobilized in response to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Stories told by staff on the ground before, during and after the earthquake offer lessons on disaster preparedness and community resiliency.

The screening will be followed by a discussion about how the process of filming created new avenues for collaboration between the participating organizations: BRACHandicap International, Heifer International, HelpAge, Operation Smile and SOS Children’s Villages. Through the film as an example, learn how your organization can use storytelling as a tool to bring together a group of organizations working in a particular region or concentration.

Click here for more information about the film and the Storytelling Program.

“On Shifting Ground” Film to Premiere at Devex World June 14

(Infographic illustrates the Storytelling process as a catalyst for collaboration in Nepal)

On June 14, the Hilton Prize Coalition will debut its film, “On Shifting Ground,” at Devex World, the global development event in Washington, DC, convening innovators, entrepreneurs and other luminaries of the international development community. The event, an interactive workshop, will consist of a screening of the film followed by a Q&A with the director, Steve Connors, and representatives of the organizations featured. In addition to topics raised in the film around disaster preparedness and resiliency, participants will address the production of the film as a model for catalyzing collaboration between organizations to achieve collective impact. The event will include ASL interpretation. 

“On Shifting Ground” features the work of six Coalition member organizations in Nepal that were among those that mobilized before, during and after the 2015 Nepal earthquake and aftershocks that killed more than 8,000 and injured 21,000. Through stories told by the staff of these organizations – BRACHandicap International, Heifer International, HelpAge, Operation Smile and SOS Children’s Villages – the film provides a first-hand appraisal of the way these best-in-class organizations stood up to disaster, and shares lessons around collaboration for greater preparedness and resiliency.

The pilot project of the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program, the film itself demonstrates the Coalition’s new theory of change around collaboration, with the Storytelling Program as the first stage of a multi-stage model designed to engage and be replicated by other NGOs working in a particular region or concentration.

Follow @PrizeCoalition throughout the day and in the coming weeks for insights and updates.

Activating in Times of Disaster: The Hilton Prize Coalition Disaster Protocols

Through its Disaster Resiliency and Response Program, the Hilton Prize Coalition works to implement innovative, collaborative models for building resiliency in communities before a disaster strikes and administering efficient, collaborative approaches to disaster response. The Coalition has developed a series of disaster protocols which facilitate information sharing amongst member organizations responding on the ground. With increased knowledge of each other’s activities, Coalition members are better able to work in concert with one another.

When a disaster strikes, the Coalition activates its disaster protocols: member organizations on the ground are immediately identified and communications are sent to assess the safety of staff and beneficiaries. Updates are then shared on Coalition social media channels and highlights of Coalition members’ immediate relief efforts are collected and shared on a dedicated page of the Coalition website. The response may also include convening of information-sharing calls and coordination of resource-sharing among Coalition members in the countries or regions affected to assist with recovery.

Activation following the Ecuador Earthquake

For example, the Coalition disaster protocols were activated on Saturday, April 16, 2016, when a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the northwest coast of Ecuador. As of April 28, the death toll neared 600, with more than 16,000 injured. Communications were deployed among the four Coalition member organizations with active staff in Ecuador: Heifer International, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), Operation Smile and SOS Children’s Villages. Two additional Hilton Prize Laureates, Handicap International and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, sent teams from neighboring countries to assist with immediate relief efforts.

For more information on the efforts of each organization, click on the links below.

               Handicap International 2016 Ecuador Earthquake

               Heifer International 2016 Ecuador Earthquake

               MSF 2016 Ecuador Earthquake

               Operation Smile 2016 Ecuador Earthquake

               SOS Children’s Villages 2016 Ecuador Earthquake


Coalition Member Spotlight: Operation Smile

The first recipient of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 1996, Operation Smile is an organization that truly exemplifies the spirit of the Hilton Prize Coalition. Operation Smile describes itself as an “international medical charity dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide through access to surgical care.” Since its founding in 1982, Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children in developing countries who were born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. Through its reach across more than 60 countries, the organization has developed expertise in mobilizing volunteer medical teams to conduct surgical missions in resource-poor environments while adhering to the highest standards of care and safety, filling the gaps in access by partnering with hospitals, governments and ministries of health, training local medical personnel, and donating much-needed supplies and equipment to surgical sites around the world.

One of these partnerships come into particular focus through the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal. Through a collaborative documentary, the Storytelling program showcases the work of six Coalition members that mobilized in response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake and aftershocks. In the photo below, Master Storyteller Steve Connors speaks with Dr. Shankar Rai of Operation Smile. Dr. Rai works at the Nepal Cleft and Burn Center within Kirtipur Hospital, outside of Kathmandu. Connors recounted from his interview with Dr. Rai that “the hospital wasn’t damaged in the earthquake but was extremely busy in the first few days afterwards, treating hundreds of earthquake victims.” Stories like this, of the way development organizations expanded their roles to integrate disaster response, are highlighted in the film. The other five Coalition members featured in the film are BRAC, Handicap International, Heifer International, HelpAge International and SOS Children’s Villages.

Nepal_020416_Meeting with Dr. Shankar Rai of Operation Smile at Kirtipur Hospital

(Photo taken by Rasmi Dangol of HelpAge International Nepal)

In addition to its participation in the Storytelling program, Operation Smile remains committed to the goals of the Coalition through its involvement in the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program. This summer, Operation Smile will host a Fellow who will support its Office of the Co-Founders with fundraising/development, strategic planning projects, board leadership and research. Additionally, the Fellow will have the opportunity to travel on an international medical mission and gain first-hand experience of the organization’s global operations. In the fall, a Hilton Prize Coalition Collaborative Fellow will work alongside both Operation Smile and Coalition member Tostan in Senegal, focusing on social reintegration programs for women who have suffered from obstetric fistula.

Operation Smile’s work on behalf of children truly exemplifies the spirit of the Hilton Prize Coalition. Their commitment to Coalition programs will benefit collective impact efforts to empower communities and alleviate human suffering around the world for years to come.

Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow in Nepal Receives National Award

We are proud to announce that 2016 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow Amul Thapa has received an award from the Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr. KP Sharma Oli, for his work and dedication in documenting the aftermath of last year’s earthquake and aftershocks. A photojournalist with, Amul has been a creative partner in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal, supporting Steve Connors, the Master Storyteller, as a photographer, travel liaison and assistant during filming. In a fitting testament to the work being done by Hilton Prize Laureates, Amul is also an alumnus of Coalition member organization SOS Children’s Villages Kavre in Nepal.

Says Connors, “Amul made such a valuable contribution to our understanding of the human story amid the devastation of the disaster–most notably his images of hope arising from the sadness of the rubble–that transcended the sorrows and illuminated the strength and resilience of the Nepalese people.”

Amul has written about his experience working on the documentary as an alumnus of the SOS Children’s Villages Kavre. Connors adds,  “As always, when an individual is so recognised for their work, we should also reach back to understand their journey to that place and the helping hands they were offered along the way. Credit for that belongs, in no small measure, to the walls and the spirit of the SOS Children’s Village within which Amul was nurtured as he grew.”

As a 2016 Fellow, Amul will be contributing more of his photography and impressions throughout the next few months as we commemorate the one year anniversary of the earthquake and aftershocks.


(Amul, right, receives award from Prime Minister Oli for his contributions in the field of photography. Photo from original article at

Voices from Nepal: Returning to Normal

Amul Thapa is a photojournalist with He is also an alumnus of Coalition member organization SOS Children’s Village Kavre in Nepal. Amul was a creative partner in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal, supporting Steve Connors, the Master Storyteller. He served as a photographer, travel liaison and assistant during filming. In this blog post, Amul shares his thoughts on relief programs in Nepal following the April 2015 earthquake and aftershocks, as well as the ways International NGOs can work together throughout the humanitarian sector.

Returning to Normal

by Amul Thapa

Almost a year has passed since the people of Nepal faced a tremendous earthquake.  As a photojournalist, I observed the scenario of this great crisis and have been documenting our efforts as a people to return to normalcy. Though we have slowly been recovering psychologically, we are still under the same level of humanitarian crisis in terms of building shelters and other basic infrastructure necessities.

This January, I got a call from SOS Children’s Villages, the place where I spent my childhood. I was brought up at SOS Kavre, where I had been taken at the age of nine. Now I am living on my own, and this is all because of SOS. I was provided an opportunity to work with Steve Connors, a British filmmaker. My assignment was to assist him in depicting the stories of emergency response programs conducted by SOS and the other Hilton Prize Coalition member NGOs in the disaster-affected areas: BRAC, Handicap International, HelpAge International, Heifer International, and Operation Smile.

In the beginning, our team visited the representatives of the NGOs for the purpose of obtaining interviews, mainly focused on the areas of their support to the disaster-prone people. After concluding the first phase of interviews in the Kathmandu city offices, we set off to visit the various rural areas where the NGOs rendered their services. We learned how these services helped to release people from some of the terrible trauma caused by the sudden and unexpected tremors. The NGOs focused on bringing some stability back to the lives of the people by providing them various supports such as basic funds for sustainable livelihoods, establishing Child Care Spaces (CCSs) for children so they could be released from the daily pressures of dealing with the traumatic situation, and building temporary makeshift shelters.

I was continually impressed to learn how effectively the emergency relief campaigns were conducted by these NGOs. With the support of these NGOs, communities seemed to be able to return to their normal livelihood activities. When the schools and colleges in the rural areas were closed, the children continued their educational activities in the CCSs established by the NGOs.

All the service providers as well as the beneficiaries had a lot to tell. Throughout our journey to different places I was struck by the similarities between the stories told by the different people, and how relevant our experiences were to each other. Before getting involved in this project, I was unaware of the Hilton Prize Coalition member NGOs other than SOS. Through this project, I was introduced to five other NGOs and their areas of work, which seem to be strongly interrelated. After visiting the working areas and talking to representatives, I understood how the work and the people were interconnected. Though the nature of the work of these six organizations may vary, the target groups are similar and the objectives of the organizations are the same: to improve the living standards of the people and make them ready to cope with the situation. It seems that our efforts will become better and more effective as these organizations find more ways to work together to make optimum use of the available resources and to facilitate services to help their target groups return to normal.

Amul with HI

(Amul, at right, connects with a young girl and her grandmother, who are living in a temporary shelter camp in Kathmandu. Photo taken by Steve Connors.)

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal

Part 4 of the Storytelling Series in Nepal: The Beauty of Our Journey

Rasmi Dangol currently serves as the Accountability Assistant for HelpAge International Nepal, where she has worked since 2014. She has been an instrumental player in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal, supporting Steve Connors, the Master Storyteller, and working alongside the In-Country Coordination team. In this piece, Rasmi reflects on her experience as a young Nepali woman finding a balance with the people she has met during discussions of how the April 2015 earthquake affected people and communities.

The Beauty of Our Journey

by Rasmi Dangol

I have been fortunate enough to have spent hours and hours in our working areas, supporting our beneficiaries and communities, spending many nights inside hotel rooms whose walls and windows seemed to veer slightly every now and then. I have seen many older people cry tears of relief and joy when we have handed out what we in HelpAge believe to be ‘age-friendly’ earthquake relief support materials to our communities affected by the April 2015 earthquake. These materials are distributed so that their immediate medicinal, nutritional, or simple everyday needs can be met. Few moments have been as innately complete and resonant as the one I just concluded with my small team of five – Steve Connors, our director, Amul, my new friend at SOS Children’s Villages, Shyam dai, our cameraman, and Dawa dai, our fearless warrior behind the wheel.

When my supervisor first described the job details for the Storytelling documentary, I had just treated the meeting like our usual meetings – talk about work to be done, data to be updated, beneficiaries to meet, and so on. When he asked me if I was interested in being the coordinator, this is when my heart skipped a beat! I was pleasantly nervous about it!

Then, from the first introductory call, I knew that the Storytelling project would be a good project to work on. Now, the entire pre-production work has almost wrapped up, and I suspect Steve is probably taking in more than his normal daily espresso intake as he works furiously on post-production. Each one of us is now back to our work, busy as always. But every now and then, I take a moment to think and remember that one month – where  all five of us, representatives from organisations who barely knew one another, just clicked and brought this documentary into fruition in a spirit that was almost extraordinary on its own.

All together from six organizations – BRAC, Handicap International, HelpAge International, Heifer International, SOS Children’s Villages, and Operation Smile – we were able to capture the stories of people including key staff members, beneficiaries and stake holders that were impacted by the 2015 earthquake and aftershocks. When I look back on the overall memories of our time together, the travels, the endless conversations, the occasional highway stop to take in the ‘beauty of our journey,’ and when I hear words of gratitude and thanks from all, I truly feel that I have contributed a small, wee bit.

Of course, a collaborative effort like this is only possible when you have the support and encouragement of everyone you work with. And I can safely say that that has happened. For everything that has transpired, especially in the course of my involvement with the Storytelling movement, I am truly grateful.

Ichowk Village Development Committee VDC of Sindhupalchowk

(Rasmi – 3rd from right, connects with HelpAge beneficiaries in Sindhupalchowk district during Nepal Storytelling program)

Team_Helambu vdc of Sindhupalchowk

(Storytelling Team, L to R: Amul, Dawa, Steve, Shyam and Rasmi, Helambu Village Development Committee in Sindhupalchowk District)

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program in Nepal


Empowering Women through Collaboration

International Women’s Day, inaugurated in the early 1900s, celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s theme, #PledgeforParity, stems from the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report, which states that the gender gap won’t close entirely until the year 2133. International Women’s Day has grown into a movement (#IWD2016) that brings men and women together annually on March 8th to discuss women’s achievements and the progress that still needs to be made.

Below we highlight three of the Hilton Prize Coalition member organizations working to advance women’s rights through their programs and partnerships around the world. Take a look at the ways these Coalition members celebrated International Women’s Day and collaborated with participants, activists and other local stakeholders in the field.

            1.   Amref Health Africa

Working in 7 countries across Africa, Amref Health Africa was awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 1999. Their programs focus on HIV/AIDS, malaria, clean water and sanitation, surgical outreach, training of health professionals and family health. On International Women’s Day this year, Amref highlighted their partnerships surrounding issues like female genital mutilation (FGM), obstetric fistula and Ebola.

In 2014, Amref collaborated alongside Hilton Prize Coalition member Tostan in Senegal. The two organizations implemented the Zero Fistula Project, a holistic approach to effectively tackle the issue of obstetric fistula.


(Zero Fistula Project implemented through the collaborative efforts of the Hilton Prize Coalition in Senegal)

            2.   BRAC

BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, won the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2008, and is currently operating in 12 countries around the world on a variety of development projects. Their five primary initiatives include Empowerment, Economic Development and Social Protection, Expanding Horizons, Well-being and Resilience, and Support Programs. One of BRAC’s flagship programs empowers women through micro-finance, and has inspired many non-profits and NGOs to replicate this model in other parts of the world. For International Women’s Day, BRAC staff celebrated in Liberia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, featuring their trainings and the role of men in the fight for gender equality.

BRAC is also participating in the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program that showcases six Coalition member organizations who mobilized in response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake and aftershocks.

            3.  Landesa

Landesa is the Hilton Prize Coalition’s newest member, winning the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 2015. The organization partners with governments, communities and other stakeholders to advance land rights’ reforms, specifically for women. Landesa’s initiatives are geographically focused in Africa, China and India. For International Women’s Day, the organization shared how its programs enhance women’s land rights impact food security, child marriage and financial stability.

This spring, Landesa is hosting a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow who will conduct research at its Center for Women’s Land Rights in Seattle.

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