Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO; Heifer International “Prepared to Lead”
Posts Tagged ‘International Development’
Ms. Tsega Teffera is currently a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow with SOS Children’s Villages USA, an international NGO that builds families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children in 134 countries and territories, including the United States. Originally from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, she recently received her Master’s Degree in Communications Management from Webster University. In this blog post, Tsega writes about her increased knowledge of the international development sector as well as the projects she supported throughout her Fellowship in the Marketing department.
From my first day at SOS Children’s Villages USA (SOS), each person, in their own way, made me feel like part of the team. Everyone that I met genuinely believed in the organization’s mission. And soon, I understood why.
SOS has a unique approach to a problem that is all too common – orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children. The organization provides the most basic yet foundational element of every child’s upbringing and life – a family.
The SOS Model is simple: there are villages, homes, siblings and mothers – in short, families. The SOS Village is a supportive community that offers psychological and medical support, schools and recreational facilities. The home is a safe environment where children have a sense of belonging and responsibility both for their home and for each other. Biological siblings are kept together, not separated. Most important of all is the SOS Mother, a trained caregiver who loves and cares for the children.
As a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow, my projects this summer and fall ranged from developing communication materials for internal and external use to conducting research and collecting content. I was tasked with telling the inspiring stories of SOS families all over the world and supporting the organization’s efforts in building awareness about SOS in the United States. These projects definitely helped me to sharpen my skills and to take my know-how from theory to practice. More than that, it allowed me to discover that sweet spot where my interests and skills could be used to better people’s lives.
SOS is changing kids’ lives and giving them the opportunity to fulfill their potential. This is evidenced by the many success stories I learned of through the course of my fellowship, including that of Gebre, a little boy in Ethiopia who found his way to an SOS Village after losing his family to famine, and ended up at Harvard University on a full scholarship; and that of Mavis, a young girl raised in an SOS Village in Zimbabwe who made it to the Rio Olympics as part of the national soccer team. Seeing these changed lives has motivated me to work hard and put in the extra effort, because not only is the outcome worth it, but the positive effects are lasting.
As I wrap up my time at SOS, I see a future for the organization that is exciting and impactful thanks to corporate partners, individuals, SOS alumni and other groups who believe in the organization’s mission. Of these partners is one that I was able to meet in person was 11-year-old Capri Everitt. Capri was so moved by the plight of vulnerable children that she decided to use her voice to raise awareness and funds for SOS. For nearly a year, the young girl traveled to 80 countries and sang the national anthem of each country in the national language (41 languages total). Being involved in this project taught me that there is always something that I can do, no matter what my position or resources. Capri’s story is proof that anyone can help, if we are creative with what we have.
This fellowship gave me the opportunity to discover what I, as a young African woman and leader, can do to serve my community. I’ve learned that it is possible to provide holistic support to individuals, and also that the various factors that impact people are interconnected and therefore require a multifaceted approach. As I aspire to work in the international development sector, this fellowship has broadened my thinking and taught me to consider both the short and long term impact, which is critical for sustainable development. There are many development-related issues that need to be addressed to support kids and people in general, but after my time at SOS, I’m confident that I can contribute to positive change and make a difference in my community and communities around the world.
How can storytelling transform the way community organizations work together? Join us for a webinar 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: BRAC, Handicap International, Heifer International, HelpAge International, 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.
Steve Connors, Director of the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program, will speak about his experiences connecting with the organizations’ Nepal-based staff in February of 2016. Representatives from HelpAge USA, Handicap International and BRAC Nepal will also join the discussion, addressing the ways that storytelling can influence programming on the ground and inspire the next generation of leaders.
Amul Thapa is a photojournalist with KathmanduToday.com. 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, 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.)
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)
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.
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.