CARE National Conference - Day 1

CARE National Conference - Day 1

5/23/17

CARE’s National Conference Opens with Urgency

The opening session at the 2017 CARE National Conference started on highly personal notes. At the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C., a Syrian violist helped kick off the 2017 CARE National Conference. Under stage lights at the Fichandler auditorium, Mariela Shaker shared her story of hiding under tables in Syria to avoid the bombs falling nearby. “I remember during the war walking to the music institute to teach not knowing if I would make it back home in the evening as mortars were falling everywhere randomly,” she said. “However, death didn’t scare me but watching my dreams fading away did.” An accomplished violinist, having immigrated to the U.S. to continue her music studies, she said she “lives in constant fear for her family and friends who are still suffering there and surviving without the basic necessities of life. I wonder if they will be alive tomorrow and if I will reunite with them one day.”

Bushra Aldukhainah, a humanitarian coordinator for CARE, fled her home in Haradh, Yemen, two years ago when more bombs falling on more innocent people landed at a nearby camp for Yemenis displaced within their own country. “Since then,” she told the audience of several hundred CARE advocates, “the situation in Yemen has deteriorated into one of the greatest humanitarian crises in the world,” where 18 million people — four out of every five Yemenis — need humanitarian aid right now.

The personal stories gave expression to the theme for this year’s conference: Now More Than Ever. CARE president and CEO Michelle Nunn underscored the urgency with which the world must respond to the needs of people in places like Syria and Yemen and other regions of the world. “Today, you stand shoulder to shoulder with them and you give voice to their needs — to their hunger and their hope to continue their education, to their requirement to see doctors and access lifesaving medication when they need it, to their desire to return to some form of normalcy and the safe haven of home.

“You signal that someone remembers them and you insist that our nation stand with the most vulnerable around the world.”

Other speakers reinforced the importance of working together toward the shared goals of opportunity for all, particularly for women and girls fighting for a place to learn and the freedom to earn, for access to health care and — for so many who have been so long forcibly silenced — a voice that is heard.

A panel discussion brought to the stage leading voices in this fight: Barbara Pierce Bush, CEO and co-founder, Global Health Corps; Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO, Global Fund for Women; Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder and editor-in-chief, MuslimGirl; and Chelsea Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation.

Elaine Chao, Secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation, shared her own experience migrating with her family to the U.S. when she was just 8 years old, adjusting to a foreign land and later fulfilling a career in which she has tapped into the strength, leadership and promise of women around the world. Katie Meyler, a TIME magazine Person of the Year, recounted her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia and how that has grown into a sustained fight for quality education throughout the country.

If the audience was moved by the stories from Chao and Meyler, Shaker and Aldukhainah, they were inspired by that of 18-year-old Priyanka Harijan. This year’s Deliver Lasting Change Award winner who defied the practice of child marriage in Nepal, Priyanka graduated at the top of her class and now speaks up for other girls facing the same pressure to marry early and surrender their dreams of a more independent future. 

”I feel very lucky to be a change maker,” she said. “It is a good opportunity to change myself and to empower other adolescent girls in my community. I want to thank my parents, for listening to me and hearing my wish.”

Following a standing ovation for Priyanka, who embodies what can happen when people “speak up, speak out and get in the way,” as Rep. John Lewis once challenged conference attendees to do, Nunn ended the plenary session expressing the urgency that has united so many advocates this week in the U.S. capital:

“Today, we stand at a critical juncture, and it is one that is new in CARE’s more than 70-year history, a moment when America’s role as a humanitarian leader is being called into question. This is an inflection point, and once again it is citizens and advocates — you — who will define our path forward.”

Salimata Dagnoko was awarded CARE’s first Multiplying Impact Award for her work in helping to found 200 Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups in her home country of Cote d’Ivoire. Dagnoko’s story is one that shows what the power of one person can accomplish. A child bride, she joined a VSLA group, eventually becoming a salt wholesaler. She achieved personal and financial independence and continues to foster transformation for women and girls in Cote D’Ivoire and beyond.

Travel to Kagadama, Niger — without leaving the CARE National Conference

Participants at the CARE National conference use virtual reality to travel to Kagadama, NigerCARE pioneered Village Savings and Loan Associations in a remote village in eastern Niger, and you can go there — virtually. Visit the VSLA exhibit at the Catwalk Café and Rooftop Terrace to experience CARE’s new virtual reality film, “Women on the Move,” which transports viewers into the lives of Fatchima and her 12-year-old granddaughter, Nana. Fatchima unlocked a better future for women in Kagadama, Niger, 26 years ago when she helped form one of the very first CARE VSLAs, changing the course of her life — and Nana’s. CARE’s virtual reality bridges any distance, opening a window to CARE’s work by inviting the viewer in and enabling the human connections that make the world go round. Step into CARE’s immersive virtual-reality movie experience that storifies those connections.  No passport required. Just strap on the headset and GO!

News You Can Use

How to Facebook Live in 6 steps

  1. Look around you. Is it noisy or quiet? How’s the light? Make sure your friends can see and hear you.
  2. Hold your phone horizontally like the pros do. TIP: Once you go live, you can’t change the orientation of the video!
  3. Describe the “Live.” Write a compelling description and tag any relevant people and organizations.
  4. When you’re ready, hit the blue “Go Live” button in the bottom right corner of your screen.
  5. Say hello! Once you’re live, let people know who you are, what you’re doing, and why you CARE! Respond to commenters as they ask questions and cheer you on.
  6. When you’re done, be sure to click "Post" to archive it on your Facebook page. You can edit the description to tag people (or CARE, CARE Action or your rep!). You did it!

The Perfect Storm

Join CARE’s Thunderclap tomorrow to mobilize your social networks and send Congress a strong, unified message: #Don’tCutLives. Thunderclap is a "crowdspeaking" platform from which you can help shape the conversation around a budget proposal that would have a disastrous effect on the lives of millions of people in the world’s most vulnerable communities, including countless refugees, who count on U.S. foreign assistance for access to food, clean water and education. Register now at the link above and make your advocacy thunder heard!

In Case You Missed it: Overheard in the Break-Out Sessions

“Storytelling is the single most powerful tool we have and we’re not using it nearly enough.”

  • People will hear facts if they’re contained within a story.
  • Stories influence what we believe and what we act on.
  • Stories influence to whom we give our time, attention and money, and how much we give.

--Andy Goodman, Storytelling: Tapping the Power of Narrative

“If Cargill was a nonprofit, I’d want it to be CARE.”

Elizabeth Fay, director of policy and advocacy, Corporate Government Relations Panel

Stay Informed & Get Involved

Join our email list for our latest updates and get inspired to take action.

Sign Up