Where Health and Education Meet, Children Win

The following blog first appeared on The World Bank.

 

Every mom wants a healthy baby. And in the early days of a child’s life, parents and doctors understandably focus on how the baby’s physical development—is she gaining weight? Is he developing reflexes? Are they hitting all of the milestones of a healthy and thriving child?

 

But along with careful screenings for physical development, there is an excellent opportunity to tap into those same resources and networks to promote early cognitive, socio-emotional, and language development. This helps children everywhere have a strong start in life, ensuring that they are able to learn as they grow and fulfill their potential throughout childhood.

 

Save the Children works with partners around the world to integrate early childhood development interventions into programs in innovative ways—figuring out what works in local contexts and building an evidence base with governments to effectively support children and parents in the early years.

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In El Salvador, for example, we worked jointly with the Ministry of Health and National Academy of Pediatricians to design a screening tool to measure development in children under five. This empowers doctors and health workers to screen for development alongside health check-ups. Now when parents take their children to “healthy child control’’ checkups, children receive a comprehensive developmental evaluation so that the medical staff can identify risks early and advise on age-appropriate activities. By encouraging parents to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months or mimic the babbling sounds that their two to four-month old baby makes, these health experts are putting parents and young children on the path to success.

 

Medical staff in communities throughout El Salvador have been trained on this screening tool, and among 100 health centers evaluated, Save the Children found that not only are medical staff using the screening tool, but 95% are using it properly. The program has been brought to schools nationwide, and the Ministry of Health expects to reach hundreds of thousands of children, from birth to age five, in the early years of implementation.

 

Non-state actors like Save the Children can work with governments to find innovative approaches that meet the specific needs of the local population, and government commitment can turn this approach into scalable, sustainable change for children. This type of partnership is a win-win: When all parties are willing to look at a problem from new angles, real and lasting solutions can help children in those critically important first few years of life.

 

Thanks to our early experience and success, Save the Children was invited to be part of the El Salvadoran government’s team to design the new national early childhood development curriculum. We are now, along with other organizations, supporting the national roll-out of the curriculum and providing feedback to the government on community and center-level implementation.

 

Early childhood development is not limited to health, and it begins long before a child enters the classroom. Now, thanks to the leadership of the El Salvadoran government, the partnership of NGOs like Save the Children, and the support of health workers, parents and communities, children across the country are getting a stronger start in life—and the chance to build a better future for themselves.

How Your Snowman Sweater Can Change a Child’s Life

The following blog first appeared on The Huffington Post

 

There’s no better time than the holidays to remind children to be thankful and to give back to others in need. However, that is not always easy during this busy time of year.

 

That’s why Save the Children is using a holiday tradition of donning “festive” sweaters as an easy, fun way to raise awareness about helping the youth of the world in need.

 

Kids can help make the world better by wearing a holiday sweater on Dec. 12. Photo by Dan Burn-Fort / Save the Children.
Kids can help make the world better by wearing a holiday sweater on Dec. 12. Photo by Dan Burn-Fort / Save the Children.

On Dec. 12, Save the Children’s Make the World Better with a Sweater holiday fundraising campaign is dedicated to rallying people to wear their quirkiest holiday sweaters and give just $5 to children in need. You can fly solo or spread the joy even further by engaging your children, work colleagues, friends and family in a festive sweater party. Not only will you be making a fashion statement, but you’ll be bringing attention to Save the Children’s mission of giving children living in poverty a healthy start, an opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

 

Look into the recesses of your closet; many of us, parents and kids alike, have a holiday-themed sweater we only wear once a year. If you don’t own an iconic holiday sweater, you can buy, borrow, or even glitz up a regular sweater with tinsel or cut-outs of stars and snowflakes.

 

Who knew a sweater could do so much? But why stop at involving your children in our sweater day? There are many other ways children can brighten the environment and the lives of those around them. Parenting blogs are a great resource to search for other inspiring ideas for involving kids in giving back this holiday season.

 

Front Row Mama suggests children write thank-you notes to the custodians at school; put candy canes and a note on the cars in the teacher’s parking lot; leave a package of diapers and wipes on the changing table in a public bathroom; and help prepare a meal for a family in need.

 

Mom Start recommends children find a local “Giving tree” and pick someone to shop for; save up old soda cans, then return them for the bottle deposit; then choose a charity to donate to; go through their closet and clean out any old toys they don’t want any more to donate; and be challenged to do one nice thing for another child every day for 12 days.

 

Amy Bizzarri of Social Moms Network encourages children visit an elderly neighbor, shovel a neighbor’s walk or driveway, help at a local animal shelter and create activity boxes for children in homeless shelters. Carolyn_Sweater

 

One additional option is to donate or buy a gift from Save the Children’s gift catalog. Kids can chose from items like sending a girl to school or giving a family a goat. And thanks to our partner, Johnson & Johnson, you can double your impact. The company will generously match each dollar donated through our gift catalog.

 

Perhaps you have a few ideas that you do with your children to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below.

 

I hope you will join us this Friday, Dec. 12 to turn these holiday celebrations into something more meaningful and fun for the entire family. Together, with sweaters, we can transform children’s lives and the future we all share.

Partnering to Help China’s Children Thrive

Last week, as China was busily preparing for a visit from President Obama, I was busy witnessing some excellent programs helping children in the most populous country in the world.

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As we’ve seen in so many countries around the world, China’s inequality gap is growing quickly and millions of poor children are getting left out with little opportunity to catch up as China’s development speeds up. Save the Children is working in China alongside some of our strongest corporate partners to improve access to health and education for children so that they can have the best chance of success.

 

While China has already reached Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, child mortality is still an issue given the huge numbers of children. In the rural Sichuan province, we visited a great program funded by Chevron that supports the training of local village doctors on vaccinations. This program also uses mobile phones to collect data and send reminders to patients—a great way to use technology to link into an existing health system, already demonstrating impressive results in vaccination coverage.

 

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The next day, in Chengdu, we visited a school focused on inclusive education. Basic and secondary education opportunities for China’s children are improving at a rapid pace, but early education for poor children is still not widely available—and education for disabled children is lagging dramatically.  The majority of disabled Chinese children do not go to any school and those that do are generally in a specialized school, but the IKEA-funded program we visited shows an increased commitment to serving the needs of disabled children. We visited an inclusive education school where mildly disabled children were learning with other students and a special school with more severely disabled students, and it was wonderful to see children of different levels of learning ability engaged and excited to be learning.

 

Also during my trip I visited Accenture’s local Skills to Succeed program, which is doing excellent work in training migrant children with skills that will help them find meaningful work, and a school health and nutrition project funded by P&G to improve hygiene knowledge and behavior practices in a school on the outskirts of Beijing.

 

It’s natural that China work closely with corporations as part of the country’s ongoing economic development—and it’s wonderful to see that this partnership extends to strengthening children’s access to health and education, so that they can be a part of China’s future. Save the Children is proud to work alongside China’s government, business and social leaders to make a difference today for the leaders of China tomorrow.

Raising awareness of urban poverty on World Cities Day

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Justin Mortensen

Convenor of Global Urban Strategy Initiative

Cilincing, North Jakarta

October 31, 2014

 

Every two months 10 million people are either born in or move to cities; a trend that will continue at least through to 2030. 94% of these people will live in cities in the developing world.

Each morning Sutriawati arrives early at the school where she is a Grade 3 teacher in Cilincing, North Jakarta. Even early in the morning the streets are busy as fishermen head to their boats; small business owners load their wares on motorbikes and children go to school. Sutriawaiti often jumps over rubbish-strewn puddles during her journey.

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Sutriawati built 5 toilets for the the school

Cilincing is one of Jakarta’s poorest and most densely populated areas. It has one of the highest concentrations of poverty in North Jakarta. It is a glimpse into a new world that is dawning across the globe – a world of cities.

As the Healthy School representative at SD Pantai Indah Elementary School, Sutriawati knows that a safe and sanitary school environment is essential for creating a place where children are inspired to learn. “Parents complained a lot to the school superintendent about the fact that we only had two toilets for 417 people.”

More than a billion children now live in cities and towns worldwide. Many of them face an urban experience like the students at Sutriawaiti’s school. A world in which they live just over the horizon from the awe-inspiring vitality of ‘the city’, while struggling to meet their basic needs.

Save the Children understands that over the next 15 years this transformation will only speed up. We are responding by increasing the number of projects we run in cities.
Perhaps we can be more assertive here, and say this is the ‘changing face of poverty’ or the ‘urbanisation of poverty’.

Some have asked us why we are focusing on this since ‘real poverty’ is concentrated in rural areas. While there is no doubt that a significant proportion of rural populations face deprivation, we believe that the emerging urban poor represents the changing face of poverty. And that, more importantly, children are the first casualties of urban poverty.

Projects like the Strengthening Education through Awareness and Reading Achievement project in North Jakarta are an example of our commitment. The programme takes a multi-dimensional approach to school safety.

“After I participated in the training from Save the Children, I realised the importance of prioritising the various aspects of the healthy school.” After the training, Sutriawati worked with the superintendent and school management committee to identify funds to “build five toilets, two for boys, two for girls, and one for the teachers”. She also organised the students to help her collect garbage every day before the start of class.

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Sutriawati built 5 toilets for the the school

On 31 October 2014 Save the Children is proud to support the first World Cities Day. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Leading Urban Transformations’. UN Habitat launched Urban October, a month for raising awareness on urban challenges and opportunities with the public. It is the month for stimulating debates and moving forward commitments. We’re proud to support the urban transformation happening in the more than 300 urban communities we operate in across the world.

Many of the newest and most vulnerable city dwellers aren’t benefiting from the opportunities of the city. We believe that if cities are to transform – the world must ensure that all families are prospering. Everyone deserves access to good schools, health clinics, jobs, sanitation systems, and safe communities.

We have a historic opportunity to harness the potential of cities to reduce poverty. But we cannot ignore the urban poor. Help us raise awareness about the growing number of poor urban families across the globe. Tweet your ideas about how we can harness their energy to transform cities to @citiesforkids @savethechildren or @UNHABITAT using the hashtags #allurbanchildren #worldcitiesday or #transformcities #urbanoctober #HabitatIII.

The World’s Ebola Crisis: Disastrous for Mothers and Daughters

In the course of a regular day with my 13 year-old daughter, I check in on how her day went and tell her I love her.  It’s pretty standard stuff for moms.  And as President and CEO of Save the Children, I’ve seen how children’s health, happiness and safety are paramount to mothers in every corner of the globe. That’s why last week, when I called my daughter from Liberia, I stayed on the phone a little longer than usual—so grateful to hear her voice and know she was safe and well.

 

The conditions in Liberia, where Save the Children is responding to the Ebola epidemic, are some of the worst I’ve ever seen.  Children are always among the most vulnerable in a crisis and this is no exception—2.5 million children under five are living in the hardest-hit areas across the region, and 75% of all children infected in the current epidemic have died. Even those who are not infected themselves risk losing their parents to this terrible disease and often end up alone and ostracized by their communities. Fear, like the virus, is spreading rapidly.

 

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Martheline with her three younger siblings, who she is now caring for in the wake of their mother’s death from Ebola.

I met a young girl named Martheline, who is about my own daughter’s age. When her mother became ill with the Ebola virus, there was no money for a doctor and no way to access local services. Martheline nursed her mother at home, and then mourned her when she passed away.  Having lost her father several years before, Martheline was left to care for her three younger siblings—while a fearful community left them to fend for themselves. Even though they were not infected by the virus, every day has become a struggle for survival.

 

This crisis is also taking a toll on the incredible progress the world has made to reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths in Liberia and around the world. Already weak health systems are collapsing under the strain of the outbreak and many health facilities are closed—meaning that children are missing out on vaccinations and basic health care, putting them at great risk for preventable childhood diseases, and more women are giving birth at home in dangerous conditions. The effects of this virus are devastating and far-reaching.

 

The people I met in Liberia are no different than those I’ve met anywhere else in the world. They want the chance to be self-sufficient. They want to be able to support their families. They want to live with dignity and pride.

 

The most important thing we can do now is to focus on giving those affected by Ebola the chance to live safe, healthy lives once again. That’s why Save the Children is joining forces with those in the region to halt the spread of Ebola. In Liberia, we’re building Community Care Centers to provide community-based care closer to home, training health workers, and providing medical equipment and protective kits to families. We’re also working with orphans and other vulnerable children to ensure they are protected in this time of crisis by providing survivor kits to meet their basic needs and reuniting them with extended family whenever possible.

 

I know it can be easy to feel hopeless in the face of such devastating death and disease. But the global health community has already proven that by working together and partnering with people on the ground, progress is possible. Together, we eradicated smallpox. We are well on our way to do the same with polio, yellow fever and measles. 17,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. There are millions of children alive today because we believed in the power of local health systems and we believed in the power of working together.

 

We must act now to support mothers, daughters, families and communities in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Martheline didn’t just lose her mother to Ebola—she lost her childhood to the virus. It’s up to us to make sure she doesn’t lose her future too.

 

Donate today to help Save the Children build and manage Community Care Centers for Ebola patients and their families and distribute Survivor Kits to meet orphaned children’s basic needs.

Ebola Crisis: Giving Parents in a Terrible Situation the Knowledge to Protect Their Families

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Daisy Baldwin, Humanitarian Information & Communications Trainee

United Kingdom

October 2, 2014

 

The Ebola outbreak is all over the news and the numbers can feel overwhelming.

At least 6,553 people have been infected across the region and over 3,083 have already died from the disease.

In Sierra Leone there are 5 new cases every hour.

Yet for people living in the affected countries, this crisis isn't about numbers. It's only about loved ones who are sick, and who are dying.

Sam's story

Sam is around three years old and lives in the remote district of Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone, which has been heavily affected by the outbreak.

When Sam's mother caught Ebola, she brought him and his little brother Peter to the Ebola treatment center run by Médecins Sans Frontières‎. Neither Sam nor Peter was found to have symptoms of Ebola, so they were taken to an interim care center supported by Save the Children.

Sam was very thin when he arrived, and later developed a sore throat. The team at the care center made sure he had the treatment he needed to get better.

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In Sam at an Ebola interim care center in the remote, disease-struck district of Kailahun, eastern Sierra Leone (Ashley Hamer/Save the Children)

A terrible fate for a tiny child

Sam's younger brother Peter was not so lucky. He developed symptoms of the disease and was immediately transferred to the treatment center but sadly, he died shortly afterwards.

However, there is a little good news in the midst of this family tragedy: Sam's mother has made a full recovery. She now lives at the care center with Sam, where she is able to help out.

Sam is not currently believed to have Ebola, but he and his mother must wait until the 21-day incubation period is over to be sure. At the moment Sam is healthy and being cared for.

Support is vital
Without the support provided at the Save the Children-supported interim care center, Sam would have been more vulnerable to catching this deadly disease. Instead, he has been looked after throughout this extremely traumatic experience.

Unfortunately, this interim care center is one of very few such places currently operating in Sierra Leone.

There are 2.5 million children under five living in areas affected by the Ebola outbreak. They are at risk of catching the disease themselves but also of losing their parents or carers.

The scale of this outbreak can seem paralysing; but we can help, and we must act.

Awareness and education
It's vital that we continue to raise awareness and educate people on preventing the disease's spread. It's equally important that there are sufficient care facilities and trained staff to handle cases.

When Sam's mother got sick, she recognised the symptoms and knew where to go. In a terrible situation, she did the best for her family. We want to enable many more families to do the same.

We have already trained more than 3,000 community health workers, to go from house to house explaining how to prevent infection.

We have also set up a treatment center in Liberia, and planning to set up more.

So far, we have reached more than 265,000 people across four countries. But we need to do much more. Please support our Ebola Children's Relief Fund.

Notes from the UN and the Clinton Global Initiative: Speaking Out for Children in New York

This was a busy week for global development, as leaders from government, business and civil society came together in New York for the Clinton Global Initiative meetings and the UN General Assembly. As usual, Save the Children was there to take the opportunity to make children a central part of the agenda—and urge action on their behalf.

 

It’s no surprise that Ebola was a major part of the conversation, as the outbreak continues to dominate the headlines. I spoke with Reuters about how critical it is for the international community to step up our efforts to treat Ebola victims and halt the spread of the virus. We have increased our ongoing response to the outbreak in West African countries and we are moving forward with a stronger, community-based response through local Ebola Care Centers in rural areas. Easier access to local medical help and supplies, plus ongoing education about how to contain the spread of the virus, is urgently needed to save lives and protect children. As the death toll from Ebola nears 3,000 one thing is certain: the world must act quickly.  

 

Another big issue this week was the ongoing crisis in Syria—and we are working to ensure that children are not forgotten in discussions about geopolitics and conflict. Our new report, Futures under Threat: The Impact of the Education Crisis on Syria’s Children, shows the effects of conflict on millions of school-aged children. Before the conflict began, almost all Syrian children were enrolled in school but now Syria has the second-worst enrollment rate in the world. I talked about the report on Al Jazeera America and we used our influence this week to demand that Syrian children, both inside the country and those living as refugees, are protected and educated—their best chance at building a better future.

 

Of course, one of the greatest areas of focus for Save the Children is newborn and child survival as we work to accelerate progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goal #4, to reduce the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015. The world has made significant progress, but we have more to do in the 500-day sprint to the end of 2015 and in the post-2015 agenda to get to zero and finish the job. At Mashable’s Social Good Summit on Sunday, I introduced a “Simple Ways to Change Lives” panel featuring Liya Kebede, Ethiopian model and maternal health advocate, UNFPA’s Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin and our own Victoria Shaba, a midwife from Malawi, to talk about how trained and equipped health workers can save the lives of mothers and children using low-cost, proven interventions.

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Finally, I joined with others at the Clinton Global Initiative to announce a new partnership to support literacy across the globe. Together with the Bezos Family Foundation and their Students Rebuild program, we are engaging school children everywhere in The Literacy Challenge to design and create bookmarks. The Bezos Family Foundation will give $1 for each bookmark they receive through the challenge to help power our Literacy Boost program in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

 

We take advantage of major meetings like those held this week to advocate for a better world for children—but we know that one week in New York won’t address every issue and answer every question. That’s why we match our global advocacy work with everyday efforts in communities around the world, fighting for progress in large ways and small, to give kids a chance at a better life.

Which Way to Better Health: A Roadmap to Save Mothers and Newborns

sgs-panel-captionCo-authored with Liya Kebede 

 

As children, we were fascinated when our school teachers rolled out the maps showing different parts of the world. Even today, as we’ve each traveled the world in our respective roles, maps still hold a certain fascination and urgency to go beyond where we’ve been — to move forward. So you can imagine how we feel about a roadmap that places the health and survival of newborns and mothers at the very center of the political agenda.

 

Read the full blog post in the Global Motherhood blog on HuffPost

Read my other HuffPost blogs here.

Ebola: Coming to Sierra Leone

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Dan Stewart, Humanitarian Communications Project Manager

Sierra Leone

September 25, 2014

 

The first sign is as you enter the terminal building. A crowd forms around a large bucket of water with a tap coming from it. Every passenger joins, and one by one washes their hands before going inside. As soon as you get close to the water you can smell the chlorine, stronger than any swimming pool.

Welcome to Sierra Leone in the midst of an Ebola epidemic.

The second sign is immediately after passport control. An official points a small plastic-handled device at each person’s temple, looks at it and gives a curt nod, before showing it to the new arrival and waving them through. When it’s my turn I see the digital display reads 36.4 °C. Normal. So on I go.

Ebola is tearing through West Africa. It’s infectious and deadly. This epidemic is killing around half of the people it infects, as though their lives depended on the toss of a coin. Sierra Leone has had over 1,500 cases.

The airport itself is on an island a twenty minute boat ride from the capital, Freetown. It’s 5am and still pitch black as I climb aboard, while rain hammers down and the boat rocks from the wind. From the front seat I can see that visibility is zero. You can only tell we’re moving from the way the boat rears every time we hit a wave.

So much has been said and written about Ebola but there’s still a sense the situation here is equally shrouded in darkness. I know the signs and symptoms and I know the steps to take to stay safe.

But I don’t understand. Not what it has been like for this disease to exert an increasing stranglehold over society, seemingly under the world’s radar. Not what it’s like to weigh up the safety of every journey you make.

As we close in on Freetown it slowly begins to become light and I start to make out the city through the murk, stretching away up the shore. I hope that in the coming days and weeks we can say the same for Ebola and its impact. Demystifying the disease is vital. A lack of understanding, fear and misinformation make the perfect breeding ground. Save the Children has so far trained over 3,000 community health workers who go from house to house explaining how to prevent the spread of the disease.

But this crisis is at a tipping point. There are new cases every day and we have a small window to contain the outbreak. Without a dramatic increase in the international response, cases could reach hundreds of thousands.

The third sign comes every time you meet someone. Hands twitch almost imperceptibly and an awkward look is exchanged. Nobody touches anyone they don’t know well now, not even to shake hands.

These signs are positive – they are necessary to help slow the spread. But there is far worse. Basic services are taking the brunt. Pregnant women can’t get the healthcare they need. With schools closed children are at risk of losing their education and with it the futures they dream of. We must shed light on Ebola – to the people at risk and the world at large – and we must stop it now.

To learn more about our Ebola response, click here.

Why Women Hold the Key to Development—and Peace

My latest revelation on development came in an unlikely place: not a refugee camp for Syrians or a small hut in Nepal but in a beautiful building in Venice built in the mid-1700s—Scoula Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista—which was the site of a ceremony for the Pilosio Peace award.  Pilosio is an Italian construction company that helps to build structures all over the world.  Their young, innovative CEO Dario Roustayan developed the Building Peace awards four years ago to honor the spirit of building by bringing together the construction industry and the making of a better world.  This year’s winner, Samiya Nkrumah, the daughter of the iconic former President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah, is building an impressive library for her country’s children in honor of her father. She and I got a chance to meet and talk a bit about the prime importance of education in a child’s life—and in a country’s future. She’s an amazing woman that you may one day see as a future President of Ghana (if I had to bet).

 

I also had the honor to join a very eclectic and interesting panel of women, each building peace in a different way.  There was Betty Williams, Nobel Peace prize winner from 1976 for her breakthrough work on speaking out for peace during the “troubles” in Northern Ireland. Siba Shakib, an Iranian filmmaker and best-selling author, spoke passionately about her work documenting the plight of Syrian refugee children who have fled the violence and chaos of their home country for over the past three years.  Khalida Brohi, a young Pakistani woman and leading advocate against honor killings in Pakistan, told her incredible story as the child of a 9-year old Pakistani “bride” and even announced her own engagement at the event.  And Italian businesswoman and entrepreneur Luisa Todini spoke of the challenges of being a woman in the male-dominated world of construction and how her leadership style helped her make a difference through work and her personal life.  I focused on the role of mothers as builders of peace (which often starts with stable families), the founding of Save the Children by Eglantyne Jebb, a woman way ahead of her time, as well as my own path to working as a leader and the key role of women in development inside countries today.

 

I was struck by some key similarities in our very different stories.  There was a common thread for each of us on the importance of strong role models and family members who supported us.  Whether fathers, mothers, colleagues, founders or bosses, we all had help along the way in our efforts to help make the world a little better.  It also struck me that frequently, the source of our passion came from seeing injustices against children.  Whether it was Siba’s work to capture the heartbreaking drawings of child refugees or Betty’s witnessing of three Irish children killed by a car driven by an IRA member shot dead at the wheel, children were a consistent theme that drives all of us in our work.

 

The audience was made up of a handful of people working on these issues full-time, but primarily of those working in the construction sector, including many of Pilosio’s customers—from boat builders to leading developers in Dubai. Former Secretary General to the UN Kofi Annan gave a wonderful keynote speech that focused again on the importance of women in driving stability and peace, starting with greater economic equality for half the earth’s population, who today own only 1% of its wealth. And I think the light bulb went off for many of these leading business men and women when they saw what a significant role the private sector can play in making sure the playing field is leveled and bringing their skills to development challenges.

 

A final highlight was the unveiling of a new shelter developed by Pilosio in conjunction with the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, allowing Syrian refugees to build their own homes.  Giving dignity back to refugees that have lost everything is a key challenge as the world experiences one of the biggest displacements of people in history.  From Syria alone, 3 million have fled their homes, half of whom are children.  Save the Children Italy will exhibit the new structure in Rome at Expo 2015, giving eight million people a chance to see it and we are looking at testing the shelter in Jordan in our work with Syrian refugees there.

 

It was a night when women of peace, the private sector, and those intent on building a better world came together and a night I was happy to be a part of.  It also illustrated two trends that I think will become even more important in the years to come—the role of women in driving a country’s future and the convergence of the private sector and development agencies to bring together the skills of both to make the future better for children.