Think Creative - Issue 5

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Think Creative Spring 2019 Better homes, better health in Honduras What blockchain means for development Peace & microfinance in Tanzania By Creative Associates International

in Conflict Learning

Supporting students, teachers and communities in crisis to find a way forward

snap shot Turn the page to learn the story behind this photo

Photo by Emanuel Rodríguez

snap shot

Think Creative by Creative Associates International

Letter from Leland Kruvant President & CEO Creative Associates International


Founder & Board Chair Charito Kruvant President & CEO Leland Kruvant Chief Operating Officer Pablo Maldonado Executive Vice President Earl Gast Chief Financial Officer Oswaldo Holguin Senior Vice President Thomas Wheelock Senior Vice President Sharon Cooley VP, External Relations Jessica Kruvant VP, Global Operations Mario Vilela VP, Education Eileen St. George

Tribute to Emanuel Rodríguez

To see the exceptional work of Creative’s programs is a partic- ularly rewarding part of my job. During a recent trip to Kabul, I visited classrooms where teachers led students through early grade reading exercises. It was inspiring to see students eagerly demon- strating their new skills. Through the USAID-funded Afghan Children Read program and in partnership with the Min- istry of Education, these students have colorful new textbooks, an updated early grade reading curriculum and better-trained teachers, as well as other critical resources. They are among the more than 402,400 girls and boys and 6,800- plus teachers reached by the proj-

ect in four provinces as of January 2019. We are also working with the Ministry in support of the coun- try’s Journey to Self-Reliance. The results are impressive—but there is a long way to go. Afghani- stan is a conflict zone, and provid- ing quality, scalable education is challenging and dangerous. None- theless, it is essential to stability. This issue’s cover story provides an inside look into Creative’s approach to education in conflict and a snapshot of a few of our technical experts. I am proud of our staff and partners working in conflict and post-conflict zones throughout the world. Separately, this issue includes memorials to two dear long-term colleagues who recently passed.

We say goodbye to Renuka Pillay, a talented professional who devoted her 40-year career to increas- ing education opportunities for children, adolescents and adults across Africa, India, the U.K. and the U.S. Creative will also miss Emanuel Rodríguez, a skilled communi- cator who most recently worked on the Proponte Más program. Through his writing and photogra- phy, the world learned of success- es and challenges in his home country of Honduras. Sincerely,

By Robyn Braverman, David Medina and Daniel Letona

Genius, kind, creative, committed and beloved are some of the words used to describe Emanuel Rodríguez, a Creative communications officer and Young Development Leader who passed away in November 2018 at age 27 after a lengthy illness. Emanuel, or Ema, was a Honduran warrior with immense conviction and the gentlest heart. We called him the magician because he could take the beginnings of a concept and turn it into a fully developed idea within minutes. We were always inspired by his writing and photography, like the image on the previous page, which brought our projects’ work to life. Ema started his five-year career with Creative as an intern before becoming a communications officer, first with Alianza Joven Honduras and later with Proponte Más. “He created bridges between people,” recalls David Medina, former Deputy Chief of Party

for Alianza Joven Honduras. “He was always connecting people and the components—he just had this ability. It was amazing how one day he could be meeting with mayors and ministers and the next day he was just as happy meeting with community members.” Ema kept up his energy and passion for the work with time spent in the field and the knowledge that he was an agent of change. He worked tirelessly, never for himself but for the people he served, his colleagues and his country. He was truly committed to the Honduras that he loved. Even sick, he continued to motivate and inspire us by sharing his own story with optimism and strength. So instead of saying goodbye, we say, “Safe flying, Ema.” Thank you for what you gave us and what you taught us.

Inspired by his favorite song, “This is a New Day,” by Argentine musician Facundo Cabral, Emanuel Rodríguez lived by these words:

Facing the Sun, I will walk, And with the Moon, I will fly. “ ”

In this Issue


Senior Director, Communications Michael J. Zamba Communications Manager Marta S. Maldonado Strategic Content Manager Jillian Slutzker Rocker Art Direction Amanda Smallwood Writers Evelyn Rupert Ashley Williams Contributing Photographers Emanuel Rodríguez Skip Brown Erick Gibson Jim Huylebroek Think Creative is published three times a year by Creative Associates International, a global development organization dedicated to supporting people around the world to realize the positive change they seek. The content is produced by Creative and does not represent the policies or positions of its clients, partners or host governments. Reproduction of any or all of Think Creative is prohibited without prior written permission. Copyright ©2019.

20 Feature Stories 20 // From the Ground Up: Improving homes in rural Honduras for healthier families

07 Dispatches

Health from the ground up 20 p.

Blockchain explained 09 p.

Alliance for health 08 p.

Updates from around our world

08 // Alliance for health in Zambia 09 // • Blockchain technology for development • Field Notes

22 // Peace and Microfinance: How “self-help groups” foster resilience to violence in Tanzania

25 Creative Life A mission-driven community 26 // Staff Spotlight: Shafiulhaq Rahimi

Peace and microfinance 22 p.

10 // Caribbean youth for violence prevention 11 // Digital development solutions with MTN 12 // In Focus: El Salvador Crime and Violence Prevention Project 14 Cover Package Learning in Conflict Supporting students, teachers and communities in crisis to find a way forward

Committed to education in conflict & peace

27 // • Staff Photo Submissions 28 // Insights on global learning from Eileen St. George, Creative’s new VP of Education 29 // Celebrating the life and legacy of Renuka Pillay 30 // Walk this Way: A day in the life of Denisse Tercero, Clinical Guide for Proponte Más

Meet Shafiulhaq! 26 p.

For more information about Think Creative , please email us at

5301 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20015 + 202.966.5804 Creative Associates International

ON THE COVER: Composite illustration of education in conflict around the world. Artwork by Paul Hostetler for Think Creative .

Photos by Alianza Joven Honduras-USAID (top left); Jillian Slutzker Rocker (middle), Pakistan Reading Project (bottom)

Photos by Skip Brown (Leland Kruvant), Gabriel Rodriguez (top), Erick Gibson (middle), JimHuylebroek (bottom)

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Di spa t che s

Spotlight West Africa

Updates from around our world

Championing Collaboration & Innovation in West Africa

West African countries have tremendous potential for innovation and growth. See howwe’re building partnerships to harness this strength and deliver results.

Check out our microsite!

Gang Prevention & Intervention Conference May 13-14

Los Angeles, California

Bringing new life to a public space, a young man works on a mural in El Salvador as part of the Street Art program, an initiative of the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador in partnership with the USAID- funded Crime and Violence

Join us at the Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference in Los Angeles May 13 - 14 . Learn about Creative’s innovative approaches to reduce risk, stem violence and build resilience.

Prevention Project and Glasswing El Salvador.

Follow along at #GangConference

Photo by Gerson Lara Burgos

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updates from around our world

Block by Block: Breaking down blockchain and what it could mean for development

Field Notes

Creative Development Lab // Blockchain

m Citizen Security

reactivate its board and write a five-year plan for strategy, resourcemobilization and community engagement. “Where we were when Creative came in, we had a lot of gaps. These are things we are able to do now,” saysMwansa. Better systems, better services ACreative Organizational Capacity Assessment showed growth among these organizations. Ten partner organizations that received training fromCreative increased their capacity by an average of six points, with a notable 38 points gained on average inmonitoring and evaluation. The other community-based organizations that received training fromCreative increased their capacity by an average of 5.2 percent, with 9 percent gained in networking and advocacy. All of this capacity building is paying off in div- idends of smoother programming, better man- agement and healthier children and families. Margaret Malama is one of KAFHI’s many childcare volunteers. Though she has five children of her own from ages 4 to 16, she has taken up the responsibility to ensure that other children in her neighborhood of Matilyo in the Kapiri-Mposhi district are taken care of and have access to education, nutrition and, impor- tantly, health care. Through its work with Creative, KAFHI learned how to develop a community engagement plan tomotivate volunteers likeMalama and other communitymembers to improve the program and better serve those in need. The programalso raised awareness among communitymembers on how to access services, saysMalama. “The neighbors know about this work and come and askme,” she says. “It has also benefitedmy family because I have learnedmore; how to care for our children, prevent HIV, hygiene, educa- tion. I have gained knowledge.” KAFHI Executive Director ObbyMubangwa says that this was part of the appeal in working with the ZAMFAMproject, providing knowl- edge and skills that stand the test of time for families and communities. “We wanted those donors who would factor in the aspect of empowering the family tomorrow. When we are not around, the family should be able to do something for the children in our absence,” he says. As for KAFHI, Mubangwa says that the skills they’ve gained and the systems they’ve intro- duced are also going to stand the test of time. “We are focused. We aremoving,” he says. “Four years fromnow, come to Zambia and see howwe are doing.” n

Alianza Joven Honduras- USAID The first Outreach Center established with support from Creative’s former Alianza Joven Honduras-USAID program celebrated its 10th anniversary. It has connected thousands of children and youth to educational, training and recreation opportunities in Rivera Hernandez, San Pedro Sula and continues to thrive. Guatemala: Communities Building Peace Together A new USAID-funded program in Guatemala will work with citizens in 130 communities of the Western Highlands to identify points of conflict and implement solutions that foster community- led peacebuilding, improve governments’ ability to respond to conflict and strengthen relationships. Countering Violent Extremism West Africa: Partnerships for Peace Partnerships for Peace is working with the G5 Sahel Women’s Platform, composed of members from five West African states, to increase women’s engagement and influence in regional CVE policies and programming interventions. The project is funded by USAID. Electoral Scholarships To strengthen female representation in electoral management, Creative Associates International’s Charito Kruvant Scholarship for Electoral Excellence will be awarded annually to two women pursuing a master’s degree in Electoral Policy and Administration through the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies online.

The word “blockchain” has been buzzing through tech-savvy circles for years, primarily in associa- tion with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but it is now growing in awareness among laypeople. Howev- er, few understand blockchain technology and its vast implications for the future—in banking, global development, elections and beyond.  Simply put, blockchain is a digital record book with features built in to keep those records safe.  Breaking down the word itself explains the tech- nology. Each “block” is a package of information, be it the details of a bank transaction, supply chain data or anything else, with its own unique fingerprint. The blocks are then linked to the ones that have come before—creating the “chain.” And because a copy of the original fingerprint is stored in the block before and after it, it is easy to detect when someone has tried to tamper with data.   Another unique aspect of blockchain is that in- stead of information being centralized, like when a bank is the keeper of transaction information and is the only entity that can verify its accuracy, it is distributed among participants. This means that every participant has access to the original in- formation and can confirm that records have not been altered. Such transparency makes it a strong system for combating fraud and corruption.

Many examples illustrate blockchain’s usability in financial transactions, but the technology can be applied to a wide variety of record keeping.   Creative has implemented an innovative “Track and Trace” system to monitor textbook distribu- tion through its USAID-funded Afghan Children Read project. Delivery teams and educators use a mobile application and text messaging tool to confirm the location and delivery of materials at each step of the way, showing where books are going missing. Recognizing the benefits, Creative is updating the system to utilize blockchain. The data collected through this monitoring tool will leverage the technology so that everyone involved—from project staff, to the Ministry of Education, to USAID—can all access it in real time. This will provide a foundation for Creative to utilize blockchain in other ways, such as smart contracts for results-based financing. As understanding of the technology grows, global development practitioners have the opportunity to utilize blockchain’s secure record keeping to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. Stay tuned to learn how Creative is exploring blockchain technology. n

Margaret Malama, who has served as a KAFHI childcare volunteer for more than three years, at home with her own five children and their friends. Inset: From left, KAFHI staff Obby Mubangwa, Eunice Mwansa and Dennis Mubenda.


Zambia // Zambia Family South Central project Alliance for health

How blockchain technology works in elections

EuniceMwansa has a very challenging job. As ProgramManager for the Kabwe Adventist Family Health Institute (KAFHI), shemust ensure the organization has the systems and resources it needs to improve the lives of 6,000 orphans and vulnerable children affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The organization provides free HIV testing for children and their families, health services for those with the virus and counseling. It covers school fees for children whose families cannot afford themand provides goats, chickens and legumes to improve their nutrition and liveli- hoods. And behind all of this is a small teamwith increasingly powerful systems. Just a few years ago, however, KAFHI was struggling tomonitor and evaluate its programs, mobilize resources and plan for the future. “We had noM&E officer, lots of gaps, challenges with resourcemobilization, project proposal

writing and report writing and governance. We had an inactive board,” saysMwansa. As a partner to implementer Development Aid fromPeople to People Zambia and Creative on the USAID-funded Zambia Family South Central project (ZAMFAM), KAFHI was given the opportunity to work with Creative to build its capacity and improve its performance over the course of three years. KAFHI was one of 23 community-based organizations that worked with Creative to improve their ability to provide wraparound services to orphans and vulnerable children and families—many of whomare affect- ed by HIV/AIDS. Through a tailored capacity-building plan that included workshops, one-on-onementoring, e-learning and ongoing support, Creative worked with KAFHI to hire amonitoring and evaluation officer and begin using a system to track progress. It helped the organization

m Elections

J’ai voté

I Voted

Yo voté





The voter receives a

Voter data is anonymized. Any identifying information is removed.

The vote is saved as a “block” with its own unique fingerprint in the blockchain server.

The blocks are linked to one another— creating the “chain,” making it easy to detect tampering.  

link unique to them and casts their vote.

Photos by Jillian Slutzker Rocker

Infographic by Amanda Smallwood

8 | Think Creative | Spring 2019 | 9


updates from around our world

Guyanese secondary school students were invited to attend the Summit.

race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, and more. To reduce violence, the Agenda states it is imperative to promote programs that are inclu- sive and increase marginalized groups’ dignity, security and opportunity. The AAA calls for resources to support equita- ble educational and economic opportunities. Specifically, the document urges governments to support youth entrepreneurship and em- ployment and address inequality in education with teacher training, counseling, vocational training, social-emotional development curric- ula, and programs to support parents. Systems that foster bias and marginalization need to be dismantled so that every young person has the opportunity to play a role in decision-making. Promote reintegration The third pillar of the Advocacy and Action Agenda centers on rehabilitation and reinte- gration of youth who have come into conflict with the law. For the AAA’s authors, this means justice systems across the region must not treat youth offenders in the same manner as adults and should be better informed about youth devel- opment. Laws and policies must be tailored more toward meeting the unique needs of young people beginning at the time of arrest, not release, and providing youth with the requisite support needed to prevent them from becoming repeat offenders. Reintegration of perpetrators and restorative justice, which ultimately aims to rehabilitate criminal offenders through reconciliation work, are essential for communities to heal from the effects of crime and violence, the Agenda states. “If the criminal justice system aided those whom it imprisoned and provided themwith the necessary tools to be appropriately reinte- grated, we would be better off as a Caribbean society,” Questelles said. Young people across the Caribbean face many challenges. But too often, the AAA asserts, they are seen only for those challenges, and not as part of the solution. As Questelles’s fellow LYNCS member Vishal Hulbert Joseph stated: “It’s about getting down and dirty. It’s about going back to your communities and showing that you have a plan of action. [It’s about] showing how you will promote this Agenda within your community to affect the real positive change.” n

Above from left: LYNCS Co-Chairs Asha-Gaye Cowell and Kurba-Marie Questelles; CFYR Chief of Party Debra Wahlberg; Dr. the Hon. George Norton, Guyana’s Minister of Social Cohesion; Amb. Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General; Muriel Mafico, UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Deputy Representative; and Deidre Clarendon, Caribbean Development Bank’s Social Sector Division Chief

Creative and multinational mobile telecommuni- cations company MTN will collaborate to pilot and scale digital solutions to development challenges. A memorandum of understanding combines Creative’s expertise in education, economic growth, peacebuilding and digital development with MTN’s experience in digital innovation and its mobile network in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East. “This partnership brings together passion, experi- ence, ingenuity and the ability to scale technolo- gies that can respond to development challenges today and in the future, whether in agriculture, education or elections,” says Leland Kruvant, Presi- dent and CEO of Creative. Leading the joint venture is the Creative Devel- opment Lab—a unit that specializes in big data, geographic information systems, media, education technology and financial technology—and MTN’s Digital Innovation team, with experience in user base, product development, innovation and investment, among other areas. The two companies say they will work together on a range of projects, including data analysis, mobile money, tech start-up acceleration, hackathons, technology-based education solutions and reach- ing underserved populations. “Aid and the private sector need to work hand- in-hand to leverage each other’s strengths since development is a shared human and enterprise goal,” says Ayan Kishore, Director of the Creative Development Lab. “Working with an African-born powerhouse that is committed to the continent’s growth and has the platform to do so is a tremen- dous opportunity for development. It is exciting to see the alignment of the innovation agendas of our teams.” n / / Creative Development Lab Creative and MTN partner for digital development solutions

Participants from more than 20 Caribbean countries attended the Summit, where youth were invited to give feedback on the

Summit co- host Emprezz Golding

addresses the crowd.

Advocacy and Action Agenda.

Summit co-host and LYNCS member Vishal Hulbert Joseph and the Hon. Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Youth and Sports for Trinidad and Tobago, pose for a photo.

The Summit featured performances by local theater and dance groups.

Caribbean youth create blueprint for violence prevention

Guyana // Community, Family and Youth Resilience program

Prevent and reduce crime The youth behind the Action and Advocacy Agenda call on policymakers and donors to support programs that are comprehensive, cul- turally responsive, and inclusive and that are designed at the local level with youth engage- ment throughout the process. Most victims and perpetrators of crime in the Caribbean are males ages 15 to 30, according to an Inter-American Development Bank report from 2017. The Advocacy and Action Agenda highlights the importance of addressing how toxic masculinity fuels crime, gender-based violence, bullying and inter-family violence. Another common theme in the Agenda is the

To reduce violence across the Caribbean and foster a culture of peace, young people must be meaningfully engaged as leaders, say youth from across the region in an agenda for advoca- cy and action. The Caribbean Youth Advocacy and Action Agenda on Violence Prevention (AAA) was de- veloped by 20 youth from the region, with the input of hundreds more. The Agenda lays out a plan for preventing violence and highlights sev- eral successful programs that serve as models. It was rolled out at the Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention. “This Action and Advocacy Agenda represents us as young people throughout the Caribbean region. We must all work together to build a

culture of peace and prosperity within our Caribbean communities,” said Kurba-Marie Questelles, Co-Chair of the Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS), a regional learning network that led the AAA. LYNCS was supported by the USAID’s Com- munity, Family and Youth Resilience program and the regional organization CARICOM. The AAA builds upon CARICOM’s Social Devel- opment and Crime Prevention Action Plan, which has been accepted as the overarching regional framework to guide violence preven- tion and reduction. The following are the three major takeaways from the youth-driven agenda.

need to end corporal punishment, both in the home and at school, to build more peaceful communities and stop cycles of violence re- peated by different generations. The document encourages scaling up and sup- porting evidence-informed programs built on positive youth development: an approach and philosophy that empowers youth to reach their potential with support from families, commu- nities and governments. Foster social inclusion In the Caribbean and around the world, large numbers of youth are socially excluded and discriminated against on the basis of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation,

Photos by Alqmedia

Photo by Alqmedia , Victor Karanja (top right)

10 | Think Creative | Spring 2019 | 11


updates from around our world

Program in focus A closer look at Creative’s work in action

El Salvador

Crime and Violence Prevention Project

“The park has become one of the biggest attractions for youth and kids in the community. We feel very grateful, and so are the families that can now come and enjoy the park.”

- Nelson Escobar, Las Moras de Colón Outreach Center volunteer

In 41 communities across El Salvador, public space restoration projects have brought new life into previously underused areas and given thousands of families a new place to relax, play and spend time together. These new soccer fields, playgrounds, parks and community centers were established by the USAID Crime and Violence Prevention Project in partnership with seven municipalities: Apopa, Ahuachapán, Colón, Mejicanos, Ciudad Delgado, Olocuilta and Zacatecoluca. Local residents shaped the projects with their ideas and volunteered their time to help with construction. An estimated 130,000 people will benefit from these new community resources. For many in El Salvador, crime, violence and the presence of gangs leaves them feeling insecure in their own communities and hesitant to spend time outside. For the Crime and Violence Prevention Project, the public space restoration initiative was an opportunity to build residents’ sense of security, belonging and community identity. The public facilities were built or renovated in areas close to the program’s Outreach Centers, creating hubs of learning, personal development and safe spaces in vulnerable communities. n

Photo by Gerson Lara Burgos

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Supporting students, teachers and communities in crisis to find a way forward in Conflict Learning

By Ashley Williams. Illustration by Paul Hostetler

The once brightly painted yellow walls of a classroom in northeastern Nigeria are pock- marked with bullet holes from fighting between the Nigerian Army and Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western Education is Forbidden.” The terrorists captured the school and used the classrooms as a camp. Boko Ha- ram’s violent messages and graffiti, including drawings of an automatic weapon, replaced the school’s educational posters. After Boko Haramwas pushed out of the capi- tal of Yobe State, a few of the classrooms were patched up. Uneven bricks now fill a hole in the wall after a rocket-propelled grenade punched through it. The scarred buildings remain and many new classrooms were added, but the threat is ongoing as Boko Haram occasionally attacks the city of Damaturu and continues to focus on schools, teachers and students. Conflict causes education to spin out of con- trol. Instability sets in, schools close and are often damaged, families flee their homes and

become displaced, and students may be absent for part of or the entire school year. Providing a basic education to these children becomes si- multaneously more difficult and more critical. “Conflict disrupts the entire education setting,” says Semere Solomon, Creative’s Senior Direc- tor of Africa Strategy, who led an innovative pro- gram in northeasternNigeria that successfully supportedmore than 88,000 displaced children. Solomon’s knowledge of conflict extends beyond his professional career. As a young man, he participated in the EritreanWar of Independence and, as the war was ending, he was reassigned to develop the education vision for post-independence. He had never been a teacher and had no background in education. To meet the challenge, Solomon read vora- ciously and listened to experts in the sector to learn how to build a system in the wake of a 30-year-war. He went on to earn advanced education de- grees and devote himself to a calling that has

spanned decades, continents and conflicts. Combining firsthand experience with extensive technical expertise is part of what has driven Creative’s education programming in conflict zones for more than 25 years. The result is an approach that engages stake- holders at all levels of society, creates stability in communities and puts the well-being of students and teachers first. It establishes local ownership, creates hope and defines a roadmap to self-reliance. Bringing back normal Conflict amplifies the importance of stability for families and communities. Whether fami- lies are displaced or trying to move forward in their places of origin, one way to bring a sense of normalcy is to get school-aged children back to learning. “We shouldn’t only give education within the four walls of a classroom,” says Solomon. “Edu-

14 | Think Creative | Fall 2018

Learning in conflict

School brings some stability and normalcy to communities, helping students thrive. This classroom is participating in the Northern Education Initiative Plus project.

Creative partnered with the Afghan Ministry of Education and community representatives to develop new teaching and learning materials.

Zainab began her education at a non-formal learning center and was then able

to integrate into the formal school system.

A student in Afghanistan reads from the blackboard in his classroom.

cation can be delivered in a non-formal setting: Under the shade of a tree, under temporary structures, in a mosque or church … [It] has to be flexible.” But simply enrolling out-of-school children and youth in school is not without its challenges. Students often need to catch up after significant time out of school. Others struggle to overcome poor-quality education or have not yet had the opportunity to study in a formal school. Creative helps bridge that gap by establishing non-formal education centers with accelerat- ed curriculums. This provides students a safe environment to catch up on skills like basic lit- eracy and math, as well as psychosocial support before integrating into formal school. It also expands the possibilities of what can constitute a place of learning, which is import- ant in crisis and conflict when actual school buildings may be at risk, closed or damaged. While taking an adaptive approach to educa- tion, Creative also prioritizes curriculum that is compatible with existing systems and has a path to accreditation. This is essential to ensure that students are not only learning, but that their studies are also recognized for the next level of schooling or to join the workforce. Zainab is one of these students. Though she is only 11 years old, she knew from an early age that a quality education would illuminate a path toward becoming a doctor in her home of Northern Nigeria. She learned about the non-formal learning centers implemented by Creative through the USAID-funded Northern Education Initiative Plus project and asked her father’s permission to join. Zainab studied at one of the project’s non- formal learning centers in Bauchi state for nine months and then took an exam that qualified her

Students of the Afghan Children Read program use Social Emotional Learning skills to regulate their emotions and strengthen their relationships.

“The challenges faced by these children are only part of their story.”

are key components for a successful education in conflict program. Jan Aqa Sahibyar is part of the Shakardara Edu- cation Department in Kabul, which is involved in the current USAID-funded Afghan Children Read project and its efforts to develop and roll- out new teaching and learningmaterials. He says that engaging students’ parents has been a priority of the program and, in turn, par- ents have expressed interest in their children’s education. “The role of parent councils has been improved through this program, and they are more en- gaged because of it. Parents requested that we form committees in every school because they could help us with whatever kind of aid that was required,” he explains. Due in large part to this level of support, the project has taken root in communities across four provinces and, as of the first quarter of 2019, has trained 6,802 teachers and reached 402,434 students. Feeling safe: Emotional support for students and teachers Janet Shriberg, Creative’s Senior Technical Ad- visor for Child Protection andWell-being, was overseeing a disaster mental health program in Venezuela after the 1999 mudslide when

she fully committed to a career in education in emergencies. Tens of thousands had been killed; many were displaced; and the country’s schools, hospitals and businesses were closed— yet Shriberg saw a common theme of children wanting to continue their studies. “The challenges faced by these children are only part of their story,” says Shriberg. Children who have survived conflict have special needs that must be addressed, but they are also resilient. “In conflict settings, there is so much going on in the environment and it’s so dangerous. Who wouldn’t have struggles? It’s hard to address emotional regulation in an unstable place,” she says. “Teachers are so overburdened and there isn’t as much time and space to think through and practice these things as you would have in other places.” To meet this need, Creative incorporates Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) into its approach to support students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach. SEL is “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empa- thy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions,” according to the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.

– Janet Shriberg, Creative’s Senior Technical Advisor for Child Protection and Wellbeing

After a rocket-propelled grenade knocked a hole in their classroom wall, students in Nigeria repaired the damage by filling it in with bricks.

for admission into grade 3 in a formal school. While her father was not initially enthusi- astic about Zainab’s academic pursuits, two years later he has become one of her greatest supporters. “He was the one who brought me to school and he bought my uniform and books. He loves that I can now read,” Zainab says. In three years, the Northern Education Initiative Plus project has provided abridged education programs to approximately 180,000 out-of-school-children like Zainab, including more than 73,000 girls, and facilitated their mainstreaming into formal schools. Education led by government, brought to life by communities Eileen St. George remembers being the only woman sitting on the floor of a mosque full of

men in Afghanistan. It was the early 2000s— long before she became Vice President of Creative’s Education Division—and earning the trust of these men was a key step in extending education programming to their children, in- cluding their daughters. Relationship building from the community level to the government level is particularly delicate and necessary in complex environments like Afghanistan, she explains. “Trust is destabilized in conflict countries; cohesion is destabilized at all levels,” says St. George. “You’re walking into environments where there are all these political actors engaged and you’re trying to figure out who’s who and with what agenda,” she adds. “We take very seriously that process of engaging, orienting and listening to the local entities to really hear from them and grow consensus around the program.”

One element of this proven approach is to improve the skill level of personnel at the educa- tionministry and then position them to lead the process. Other essential actors—teachers, par- ents, local organizations, community councils, women’s groups, religious leaders and others— are then brought in to develop projects. Creative’s experts introduce best practices, offer guidance based on similar situations and introduce techniques to evaluate progress, all the while with the aim of strengthening exist- ing systems rather than coming in as outsiders with all the answers. “It’s hard work… but it’s critical to do it authen- tically and remember the importance of hearing local voices and evolving the program to make it ever more responsive to them,” says St. George. Community input, buy-in and ongoing support

Photo by Sani Toro (top left); Erick Gibson (right)

Photo of wall by Chris McMorrow; Afghan school photos by JimHuylebroek

16 | Think Creative | Spring 2019 | 17

Learning in conflict

402k+ students reached by Afghan Children Read

In 2017, the USAID-funded Nigeria Education Crisis Response project trained thousands of primary school teachers to help their students —and themselves—return to class after conflict by violent extremists upended their communities. Using the “Healing Classrooms” approach, the training instructed teachers on key SEL com- ponents: How to strengthen students’ sense of control, sense of belonging and safety; feelings of self-worth, relationships with peers and adults; and learning engagement to improve overall well-being. It also focused on how to infuse Social and Emotional Learning in classroom lessons— guiding students on how to manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others and make responsible decisions.

More recently, the Afghan Children Read project was asked by the Ministry of Education to partner with them in developing a Social and Emotional Learning course to be implemented in teacher training colleges. The course is cur- rently being piloted to better prepare teachers for the unique challenges presented in conflict areas. Its initial orientation with the Ministry

of Education was well-received. Professional development in challenging environments

Creative’s Director of the Middle East and Asia Education portfolio Susan Hirsch-Ayari has 30 years of classroom experience, much of which was spent as a teacher and principal in Tunisia. She knows the value of professional develop- ment for educators. Teachers in conflict regions need to be equipped with both pedagogy and special knowledge to address the unique issues that arise in their classrooms, but basic opportu- nities for them to hone their craft are limited. And it’s important to remember they are also surviving the same conflict as the students in their care. “Every layer in which a child sits impacts and influences their experience in school,” says Hirsch-Ayari, adding that teachers in conflict need support systems to create a strong learn- ing environment. The Afghan Children Read project Hirsch-

Girls in Afghanistan head to school, where they learn and grow despite the limitations of living in conflict.

Girls crowd around their teacher in a Pakistan Reading Project-supported classroom.

Ayari directs is developing and implementing support systems for educators working in challenging environments. This includes a coaching and mentoring program and teacher learning circles. These programs provide an opportunity for teachers to build their pedagogical skills, talk through challenges around using newmethods to teach early grade reading and receive emo- tional support. Similar challenges are found in neighboring Pa- kistan, one of the few countries where literacy rates have seen dips in recent years, according to UNESCO. Under the International Rescue Committee’s purview, along with 10 local and international partners, Creative is delivering high-quality pre-service teacher education, training and professional development through

the USAID-funded Pakistan Reading Project. Uroosa Baloch embarked on her first year of teaching at a dilapidated girls’ primary school in Sindh province that had been closed for four years. She spent months getting repairs done, cleaning the floors, arranging access to drink- ing water and working with her mother—who is also a teacher—to encourage families to send their children to school. Initially, 25 to 30 students came to class, then enrollment swelled to more than 150 girls after the USAID-supported Pakistan Reading Project got involved. The project augmented her educational drive with training and professional development. Today, she provides an enriched learning experience for her students by applying what she has learned.

“Everything that I teach is based on methods, techniques and ideas that I learned through Pakistan Reading Project,” says Baloch. “My students have become advocates of my teaching style and they are actively engaging the community, motivating mothers, visiting parents and going door-to-door to convince parents to send their girls to school because the teaching is of high quality now.” R. DrakeWarrick, Senior Project Director of the Pakistan Reading Project, says Baloch’s case is an example of the program’s success. “The project has increased teacher motivation, student engagement and community support for reading at the early grades, which in turn is building a reading culture in Pakistan,” says Warrick. “Increased enrollments in all schools supported by Pakistan Reading Project reflects

the positive impact its approach and methodol- ogy are having to increase demand for access to quality education.” These kinds of results are what has kept War- rick energized about international develop- ment for 30 years. He says he feels fortunate to contribute to improving the environment in which people live, work and study, particularly in regions touched by conflict. “It is very difficult to study in these conditions,” says Baloch’s grade 4 student Sana. “But when we see our teacher’s commitment and hard work, we just forget everything and concen- trate on our studies.” n With reporting by Yasar Ahmadzai, Boco Edet Abdul, Saboor Chaudhry, Chima Onwe and Michael J. Zamba.

Classrooms in regions impacted by conflict may be simple, but they can create a sense of safety inside for students.

Photo by JimHuylebroek (top) Photos by Pakistan Reading Project (left)

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Sanitation and hygiene projects are making homes healthier

for children and parents

like Karen Cruz (pictured here).

In a flurry of activity along the street of this small rural community, men and women are working together to load bags of cement. Tired but laughing, they drop the nearly 100-pound bags into a cart pulled by oxen, which is block- ing the entire road. In the middle of the bustle is Petronila Cárca- mo, a mom of two and a community leader in Chagüitón. The 10 to 15 bags of cement she’s helping haul will be used in her own home to cover the existing dirt floor that poses health hazards to her family. “I’ve been out of the house so much lately,” she says. “This week I was nowhere to be found, because I’ve been bringing all the cement.” Cárcamo and others in the community are pitching in tomake improvements to 25 house- holds in Chagüitón. They are supported by the Dry Corridor Alliance-PROSASUR project, which provided the cement and other construc- tionmaterials that will be used, including wood, aluminum, PVC piping and tools, among others. The project will also supervise building and sup- ply professional contractors to lead the work. Ninoska Bulnes, Nutrition and Household Hygiene Coordinator for PROSASUR, says a simple thing like a cement floor can make a big difference in a household’s health. “Families can count on a healthier floor that will help them prevent the spread of parasites that are introduced through the skin. Para- site-borne illnesses are common in children under 5 years old,” she says. “The cement floors will be installed where the children are, some- times in the living room, and in the kitchen where food is prepared to improve food safety.” In addition to her new floor, Cárcamo, who was previously elected by her neighbors to oversee the nutrition monitoring of children in her

community, received an updated stove that will reduce the amount of firewood used by 60 percent and minimize smoke inhalation. “I am grateful for PROSASUR because today I feel happy,” she says. “I have an improved cook stove, and soon I’ll have my new floor.” Communities come together to improve health Across the Dry Corridor of Southern Hondu- ras, PROSASUR is working to improve agricul- ture production, raise farmers’ incomes and improve health and nutrition. The program is implemented by Creative in partnership with INVEST-Honduras, one of two program clusters. It’s funded by the World Bank through the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. PROSASUR is assisting 2,000 households to undertake health-focused improvements, in- cluding 800 sanitation projects. More than half of the construction and installation will take place this year, with the remaining projects completed over the following two years. The projects, carried out in collaboration with residents, are one piece of a larger effort to improve health and reduce chronic childhood malnutrition in the region. Health risks from parasites, smoke, and poor water and food san- itation often cause sickness like diarrhea and pneumonia that can stunt children’s develop- ment and prevent them from achieving healthy growth. PROSASUR is supporting the installation of new floors, stoves, water filters and latrines to com- bat these issues. The program is investing from $500 to $700 in each home and requires the households and communities to contribute local materials such as sand, rocks, water and labor.

Chief of Party Carlos Ruiz says the communi- ties are rallying around the projects and the goal of improving health. “We have been heartened to see neighbors helping one another, lending their time and energy to bring these home improvement projects to fruition,” he says. “Even more importantly, communities are excited about these changes and the impact they will have. The projects are an important step in raising awareness about health in the region. Bulnes says that she expects to see a noticeable decline in common health problems once the projects are complete and families begin using the new technologies. “We are confident that with these projects, there will be fewer cases of diarrhea and anemia associated with malnutrition, both with the children that live in the home and other members of the family,” she says. “The prevalence of both these illnesses in the Dry Corridor is 16 or 17 percent higher than the national average.” Karen Cruz, who has a son and daughter ages 2 and 4, will have all four improvements on her home in Chagüitón, marking a huge change in her family’s living conditions. She has already constructed the new stove with brick and other material provided by PROSASUR and contri- butions from her community. “With the cement floor in my kitchen and maybe part of my living room, my family will be much healthier, especially my kids,” she says. “I feel satisfied with what PROSASUR has given me. With the old stove, I was breathing in smoke, but not with the improved one. My children will be well.” n With editing by Evelyn Rupert and Carlos Ruiz.

Improving homes in rural Honduras for healthier families From the ground UP

By Amalia San Martín. Photos by Gabriel Rodriguez

20 | Think Creative | Spring 2019 | 21

Two members of Peace Ambassadors groups review the microcredit records after a group meeting. Inset: Edgar Mwangakala, a Peace Ambassador in the Temeke district of Dar es Salaam.

Brothers Axel (left) and Jordan have been spending their Saturdays at Casa Alianza – a nonprofit that offers counseling, workshops, trainings and other services to juvenile offenders.

Peace and Microfinance

How “self-help groups” foster resilience to violence in Tanzania

By Jillian Slutzker Rocker. Photos by Erick Gibson

Edgar walks the short path fromhis home in Te- meke district to the store around the corner to buy chicken feed. He swings the heavy bag onto his shoulder and lugs it back to the coup outside his house where some 500 hungry chickens wait to be fed. Though EdgarMwangakala, 27, grew up in the trade—his father also bred chickens—the work now has new promise. He recently bought a piece of land in nearby Chanika ward, where the climate is better for raising chickens. He plans to open a branch of his poultry business there. Edgar’s business is benefiting frommicrocredit he accessed through a small group of youth entrepreneurs in his neighborhood, which is a hotspot for youth violence and extremism. Called Peace Ambassadors, Edgar’s groupmeets not only to borrow credit and talk entrepreneur- ship, but also to discuss ways to build peace and help other young people avoid violence. “We call these hotspot areas where we face a lot of challenges with violence,” saysMujuni Baitani, who served as a leader for the Tanza- nia Bora Initiative, which supported the Peace Ambassadors. “In police crime reports, we find that Temeke and Kinondoni are the highest [for

crime] in Tanzania. So, it’s very easy to pick plac- es like this to ensure that we come together with this community, help them to see best practices and how they can transform.” Peace Ambassador groups like Edgar’s were one component of the Greater Resilience through Enhanced Analysis in Tanzania (GREAT) project, which worked across four cities in communities with high vulnerability to violent extremism to reducemarginalization and risk. Funded by the U.S. Department of State and implemented by Creative, the project partnered with local governments and the communities to assess local drivers to violent extremism, using robust analytical tools, so that the government and communities could effectively respond. Based on this research, the project co-designed activities with the communities to improve resilience, based on factors for resilience the communities identified. During the activities, communitymembers provided additional feed- back to the project to improve implementation. A final report revealed that the project’s informed, coordinated programming boosted the resilience of at-risk communities by 50 percent from the baseline. This was measured

by the number of mechanisms, structures and institutions engaged in resilience strengthening activities and other decision-making processes, such as local government authorities, communi- ty policing initiatives, clubs, forums, functioning reportingmechanisms, village community banks and interreligious platforms. Responding to risk The prevalence of violent extremism is rela- tively low in Tanzania compared to other East African countries. There has not been amajor attack there since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy by al-Qaeda. There were however, sev- eral smaller-scale violent attacks in the Coastal region from2016 through early 2018 that spe- cifically targeted local government authorities and police. Recently, the proximity of al-Shabab in neigh- boring Kenya and nearby Somalia has caused increased concern with reports of Tanzanians attempting to join the group, participating in affiliated training camps and joining local cells. To the south, Mozambique is contending with the emerging threat of Ansar al-Sunna, another risk for the region.

More common in Tanzania have been attacks on places of worship, mosques and churches, as well as the targeting of moderate Christian and Muslimclerics. Still, little data existed on local risk factors and drivers of violent extremism in themost vulner- able communities, says JacquelineMotcho, who served as Chief of Party for the GREAT project. “It was important to do the assessment before we started out the program,” she says. “There was essentially no baseline available that we could use and say ok, this is where things stand; this is what the indicators say. So, we had to create our own baseline indicators and start from there.” In partnership with local governments and the communities, the teamconducted the assess- ment in five regions: Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Tanga, and Zanzibar. Ultimately, the project ended up working in all but Zanzibar. Motcho says that across regions, many of the same risk factors and characteristics emerged. “Number one is that political violence is rampant across the regions. There are a lot of political injustices. There is a decrease in civic space,” she says. “The second driver was about

economic employment, opportunities that youth feel they are not availed of. The third one is about religious divide, particularly for the big religious sects: Christians andMuslims.” The report also revealed that those individuals most at risk were those near where an attack or other violent extremist activity had occurred or was ongoing, and “those who were less likely to transition to responsible adults” due to poverty, illiteracy or other factors. “When we talk about risk, it is all those things combined,” saysMotcho. In the hotspot communities of Dar es Salaam, the project responded to themost salient local risk factor—youth underemployment and un- employment—with the youth Peace Ambassa- dor groups that combined discussions on peace and ways to counter extremismwithmicrofi- nance to help youth launch small businesses. Peace Ambassadors dubbed them “self-help groups.” Beyond an income, the initiative supported vulnerable youth in paving their own paths for the future that align with their expectations and hopes.

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