Posts Tagged ‘Events’

Hilton Laureates in Nepal Join Hands for Disaster Preparedness and Response

Sumnima Shrestha is the Communication and Resource Mobilization Manager with Heifer International – Nepal. She currently serves as Collaboration Coordinator for the Hilton Prize Coalition in Nepal. Sumnima holds more than 9 years of experience in the development sector, especially in advocacy, networking and resource mobilization, program development, project management, community empowerment and entrepreneurship. Here, Sumnima reflects on the Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning (DPRP) workshop held on March 2-3, 2017 in Kathmandu. 

Hilton Laureates in Nepal Join Hands for Disaster Preparedness and Response

by Sumnima Shrestha

Getting different organizations and people together on one platform, and building a common understanding among them is a challenging part of any coalition. The Hilton Prize Coalition in Nepal is unique in itself. Coalition member organizations are working in diverse sectors with varied missions ranging from income and food security to disability and health. They have fascinating stories of their own, their interests are different, and above all, they are busy. When I became Collaboration Coordinator under the Coalition’s Collaborative Models Program, I had to overcome the challenge of making myself and others motivated and comfortable. I took this as an opportunity and met with each of the members, learned about their interests and worked to define one common goal to achieve greater collective impact for the world’s most vulnerable people.

The Hilton Prize Coalition in Nepal first came together under the 2016 Storytelling Program and included BRAC, Handicap International, Heifer International, Help Age International, Operation Smile and SOS Children’s Villages. Similarly, there are Hilton Laureates - Clubhouse International, ECPAT, the IRCT, Landesa, and PATH - working in Nepal with their local partners whose proactive participation has added tremendous value to the Coalition.

A common footprint manifested by each of the Coalition members was their involvement in relief and response activities during the April 2015 Nepal mega-earthquake. Though disaster relief is not the primary mission of all of these organizations, they moved out of their comfort zones and brought extraordinary results towards relief and recovery, benefiting thousands of people. Based on the lessons learned by the members and their interest to rise up during humanitarian crises, the need of a joint plan for future disaster preparedness and response was realized. A workshop on “Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning (DPRP)” was designed with objectives to understand disaster preparedness and emergency response as an integral part of development, and to develop joint response plans for working together in future natural disasters.

A total of 18 participants from 10 Coalition member organizations attended the workshop March 2-3, 2017 in Kathmandu. The theoretical sessions built capacity of the participants on disaster management cycles, preparedness and response, a vulnerability assessment tool for preparedness, and linkages with development interventions they are currently implementing. Phanindra Adhikari from CVICT, an IRCT member organization, described the event as “a wonderful experience. I had opportunity to gain knowledge as well as share my learning.”

The sessions were enriched by stories and experience-sharing of the participants. Said Sheetal Tuladhar of BRAC, “Sharing experiences of participating organizations was the most valuable part of this workshop...being a beginner in the development and humanitarian sectors, it was especially valuable to learn these concepts and match them with organizational experiences.”  Moreover, the group discussion on institutional mechanisms of disaster preparedness was eye-opening to the participants. The workshop focused on developing objectives of joint disaster preparedness and concluded with an official response plan of the Coalition. A task force comprising of BRAC, Handicap International, Heifer International, and SOS Children's Villages was formed for completing this plan.

The 2-day workshop with networking and team-building activities helped to strengthen these formal and informal connections, as well as personal relationships among Coalition members. One of the participants commented, “This workshop provided a platform for networking with such good organizations and I also got to learn more about them. This helped me for future collaborations, and I will definitely work towards it.”

Without a doubt, this workshop helped to establish unity in diversity. The beauty of this Coalition is that there is no competition between its members. Each are working in individual themes that are not overlapping with each other; integrating these themes results in holistic development. The Storytelling Program pilot advanced this collaboration and I am happy to be a part of this journey.

(Group photo of workshop participants)

Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Gather for the First Time at American University

(Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Houda El Joundi, Anna Russell, Lucy Willis and Eshani Bhatt gathered at American University for the Hilton Prize Coalition Alumni’s 1st networking event in the DC area)

The Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program continues to grow, with Coalition member organizations hosting Individual and Collaborative placements in the U.S. and abroad. From Seattle to Senegal, Fellows have explored myriad topics in the international development and humanitarian aid sectors, including but not limited to research on women’s land rights, data collection around inter-generational health policy, fieldwork for nutrition innovation in West Africa, and marketing, communications, and fundraising work for country-specific campaigns.

Earlier this month, the Fellows Program held its first networking event in Washington, DC, at American University. DC-based Fellows came together to connect with one another and other students, and to share experiences around their placements. The event also included a screening of the Coalition’s documentary “On Shifting Ground,” a film that highlights the response of six Coalition members to the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The screening was followed by a discussion with American University Professor James Quirk and the Storytelling Program’s Director Steve Connors.

Fellows and students discussed the major themes of the film, including NGO collaboration, disaster relief and community-led sustainable development. Professor Quirk shared his experiences working with refugee and IDP communities around the world, particularly in Bosnia, Iraq and Mexico. Steve Connors spoke about the IDP communities in Nepal that the Storytelling crew met during filming in February; stories of Sushmita and Prayan, two children living in displacement camps, are captured in blog posts written by Collaborative Fellow Amul Thapa.

Following the event, Professor Quirk wrote a review of the film and highlighted the Fellows gathering in a recent blog post for the Foreign Policy Association, writing, “Before the earthquake, these Hilton Prize winners had few formal ties to each other in Nepal. But as they addressed new needs, they recognized the benefits of greater collaboration.”

Click here to read Professor Quirk’s full review of “On Shifting Ground.”

The August networking event was the first of its kind for the Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program. As the Fellows cohort continues to grow, the Coalition looks forward to engaging the next generation of future leaders with diverse gatherings throughout the coming year.

The Rotary Club of Patan Screens “On Shifting Ground” in Nepal

(Panelists Sumnima Shrestha, Sheetal Tuladhar, Rasmi Dangol, Neena Joshi speak to Rotarians about the production process and their experiences before, during and after the 2015 Nepal earthquake)

Thanks go to the Rotary Club of Patan for hosting a screening and discussion of the Hilton Prize Coalition’s documentary, “On Shifting Ground,” in Nepal on August 8, 2016. Based in the Kathmandu Valley, the Rotary Club of Patan is a fellowship of business, professional and community leaders with more than 1.2 million members.

The film was of particular interest to Rotarians as it presented the work of their partners-in-service through Rotary’s global grants with Heifer International Nepal and the Kirtipur Hospital Burns and Cleft Centre. Through the panel discussion following the screening, Rotarians received a more in-depth understanding of the work of the Coalition members around disaster preparedness and community resiliency. Audience members also asked questions around the experiences of Coalition members when building temporary and permanent shelters.

Representing the six organizations featured in the film were Rasmi Dangol from HelpAge International, Neena Joshi and Sumnima Shrestha from Heifer International, Sheetal Tuladhar from BRAC, and Amul Thapa, a 2016 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow who served on the film’s crew.


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