Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

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.


"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.

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


Part 3 of the Storytelling Series in Nepal: This Humanitarian Spirit

Photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Steve Connors serves as the Master Storyteller for the Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program. He is traveling throughout Nepal this month to capture the experiences of the six Coalition member organizations who mobilized in response to the devastating earthquakes of 2015 – and share stories about their staff and personnel, the individuals they serve, and, most importantly, their communities as a whole. What follows is the third in a series of reflections from his journey.

This Humanitarian Spirit

by Steve Connors
Thursday, February 18, 2016. Kathmandu, Nepal

My team and I have had a busy week with lots of travel around the Kathmandu Valley - literally up hill and down dale. I had planned on writing about the highlights at the end of the week, but occasionally I come across a story that really stands out during the journey. Today consisted of one such story.

We went over to the National Disabled Fund Rehabilitation Centre in Kathmandu to meet with two of Handicap International’s physiotherapists, Mr. Pushpak Newar and Mr. Sunil Pokhrel. They were there to work, along with other professionals from HI and those of the NDF itself, so I decided to interview them on the fly as they did so. Mr. Shyam Strestha, our cameraman, stuck to Pushpak and I followed Sunil.

For the best part of two hours, we filmed them as they continued with the long-term rehabilitation program designed for their individual patients - most of whom had lost limbs in last year’s earthquake. As both professionals massaged, exercised, trained and encouraged their patients, they told us stories of their experiences last year. They truly embodied the organisational professionalism that underlies their ability to carry on their role.

Watching the dedication of these two gentlemen as they prepared the men and women in their care for a future living with a wheelchair and prosthetics spoke volumes - not only about themselves but also about the organisation for which they work.

As we were winding down, I happened to mention to Sunil that our team had spent the last couple of days with SOS Children’s Villages. To my surprise, Sunil replied, “I am from SOS. I am a product of SOS. I get this humanitarian spirit from SOS.” Sunil is a credit to not just one, but to two Hilton Prize Laureates.


(Handicap International Physiotherapist Sunil Pokhrel with patient Ramesh. Photo taken by Amul Thapa)

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

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