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Host Your Voice: Capstone Bootcamp Reflection


The vision of Host Your Voice was to enable a nonprofit’s reach to more potential donors, volunteers, and individuals to be impacted by the nonprofit’s cause. When Amulya founded Host Your Voice 5 years ago, his initial vision behind the organization was to help nonprofits reach by teaching them how to apply for a Google advertising grant. Since then, Host Your Voice has scaled to over 10 plus countries and over 20 partners, including a partnership with the United Nations

One important aspect of the Bootcamp for Host Your Voice’s development was an emphasis on long-term feasibility and growth prospects financially for Host Your Voice. Since our beginning, it has been Host Your Voice’s mission to not commercialize nonprofits. As a result, it has been our goal during the Bootcamp to research “What other markets can Host Your Voice apply it’s marketing expertise to allow it’s team long term financial stability?”

Our mentor Kevin Finnegan was honestly one of the best mentors we could have asked for. We immediately knew he was the right fit when we met him. We could tell he cared a lot beyond project development – he wanted to help us on a personal level, too. Every day, he gave us extremely thoughtful feedback, and he pushed our minds to think beyond what we were used to. It was a pleasure working with him, and we’re really excited to continue our relationship with him.

One of our initial highlights of the bootcamp was our notice that we had won the London Idea Team award. It was truly an honor to win, and we can’t wait for the opportunity to collaborate with Ellen, Alex, and the foundation this upcoming summer.

We also loved talking to the rest of the cohort – every team had such brilliant individuals who were pursuing ambitious projects, and it was really motivating to hear about everyone’s personal stories/connections to their work.

By, Amulya Parmar, Varun Madan

Paani Culture Night

Paani is a 501(c)3 non-profit my peers and I founded that aims to improve sanitation issues occurring within Pakistan by creating a space for innovative solutions and educating local and international communities. On January 1st, myself and two of my good friends were brainstorming ways that we could create an educational event regarding the intersectionality of the global water crisis. We wanted this event to be educational but also engaging and empowering. From my personal experiences, many events like these carry a format where there is first a lot of talking about an issue, and then soliciting some sort of donations. What I typically see with these events, is that people will go there in a more supportive mindset instead of one framed by excitement for the event. We wanted to change that, so we needed to have something that got people excited to go to this educational event. Which is why we decided we were going to have a culture night.

This was an event that we were excited for, because we were going to bring together eight different countries of people – Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Persians, Jordanians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Lebanese. These 8 countries suffer from serious sanitation issues. Millions have died as a result of these inhumane conditions, but billions have become desensitized to these tragedies just as the victims have become dehumanized. To make it engaging, instead of being an informational event, we were going to combine the engaging aspects of a social and the educational aspects of an info session to make a hybrid social advocacy event. The goal of our event was to advocate for two things, the first was to talk about the sanitary issues that have been occurring in these areas, while the second one was to raise awareness of the beauty that these cultures all carry. What we got, was an event where we would first talk about the intersectionality of the global water crisis and then showcase different aspects of these cultures, in a social environment that connected people. This would make it so people could sample what makes a particular culture so beautiful, and escaping the negative perceptions they may have about it.

The event that we got was close to what we anticipated. Except for the challenges. People started pouring in around 7:30 like we expected, there were dozens and dozens of people, some in cultural attire some not. Some people were more social some people weren’t. These were all the things that we were expecting. Some of the things we were not expecting, was for the microphone system to be a bust. The audio system was very weak, and the social environment hindered the attention spans of our audience, so they didn’t seem too enthralled with listening. It was frustrating, because the goal of the PowerPoint and the presentation was to unify everyone over the sanitation crisis. The cultural immersion experience was supposed to be more supplemental. This was probably the biggest challenge we endured, as our message may have been lost to some.

Aside from that, I think the event was a success because of how many people that came together and how many people that had a terrific time experiencing different cultures. It took away any sort of stereotype that people may have a certain culture for one night, because it put us all on the same platform. We had dances from Yemeni and Iraqi Student Association. We had Henna from Bangladesh and India. We had Persian students who told us that they were glad they were invited to an event that encompassed their region, because they had generally been left out of these events, despite suffering from many of the same adversities. The fact that we were able to come together on this common struggle was a great experience.

Moving forward I think the biggest thing we need to do is try to accommodate for a wider venue, incorporate more cultures, provide more activities that showcase the immersion, and really just try to hit very hard the point of unity and how we’re coming together to highlight this issue.

One thing that I really hope that I can instill to people that are reading this post, is if you have an idea go after it. Most of the time there are people at this University who share the same passion and vision that you do. If they don’t, they probably have some ideas that you can integrate into yours. The unlimited resources and tools that we U-M has to bring people together, in addition to the sheer amount of outreach that university offers is something to maximize in your four years. We took an idea and were able to bring together hundreds of people, and raise awareness about an important issue.

By Sikander Khan

Heal-Move-Shift

“Heal-Move-Shift (HMS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that aims to actively educate and partner with Middle Eastern and North African (ME/NA) communities regarding three tenets of health: Cardiovascular, Nutritional, and Mental Health. The target mission is to Heal the community, Move the conversation towards a healthier direction, and Shift the stigma away from pressing health concerns through creative and active engagement with Detroit and Ann Arbor communities, along with education programs unique to each community’s pressing health concerns.
Youth in the Middle Eastern and North African communities face barriers toward health education and access and Heal-Move-Shift acts as the middlemen to help bridge this gap. HMS implemented seminar-based programs in high schools where members of the partnered community educate youth through seminar-based programs. After an initial Pilot Program in Central Academy, Heal-Move-Shift expanded to parts of Detroit and Metro Detroit to reach larger Middle Eastern and North African (ME/NA) youth communities. This Winter, HMS will implement its wellness program in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Dearborn Heights at Central Academy, Dearborn High School, and Crestwood High School respectively.

Heal-Move-Shift research consist of collecting data by pre-seminar and post-seminar surveys from each wellness program seminar. The surveys are imperative in examining trends in student responses and correlate that to the overall effectiveness of our seminars. For the Central Academy pilot program eight entrance and exit surveys were given to students. Questions regarding the seminars ask participants to indicate the overall quality of the seminar (instruction, topics, activities) and their understanding of the topic discussed that seminar. Using data that is already available regarding health disparities in immigrant population, the goal is to compile all relevant information to assess the most appropriate way to address the problem and define any gaps in data that we may need to address through both preliminary research and school-based research.”

Check out their Capstone poster here!: HMS Capstone Poster

Team members:

Tariq Mekkaoui – Biomolecular Science, 2020
Mariam Reda – Creative Writing, 2020
Mohsin Arsiwala- Public Health, 2021

Brian – Institute for Economics and Peace (Sydney, Australia)

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I was interning for the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). They are a not for profit think tank that tries to measure peace in the world by developing a global peace index. In the organization, I was doing some in-house consulting for a philanthropist that wanted to measure the cost-effectiveness of peacebuilding activities around the world. Initially it was a very research intensive project. I must’ve read over 500 pages of literature on the subject and ended up creating a literature review of the highlights and how we can move forward from here. We next moved onto the methodology stage where we compared the different methodologies against each other. By the time I left, we had not finished the project, but I am hoping to keep working with them until the project closes.

My main reason for going abroad was to look for places to potentially live and work after graduating from college. As an international student, it is not always up to me to decide where I want to work. Getting sponsored is a hard and you’re pretty much going wherever the world will take you. I think that living and working in Sydney has greatly informed me on the conditions I need to work here. There was not too much of a culture shock but I’ve grown quite fond of this place. I’ve come to learn that there are so many places that one can live and work and Sydney is among my top.

2

I am part of a consulting group at the University of Michigan called 180 Degrees Consulting. It is the largest consultancy for non-profits and social enterprises. Through my internship I was able to acquire the organization as a client for my consulting group. We will be working together on the project that I had started and hopefully will be able to finish it together. I’m studying development within the international studies major at UM and this project is directly in-line with the field, as peacebuilding activities often overlap with development activities. I hope that through this joint initiative, I will be able to produce literature on the subject and methodology to measure whether or not peacebuilding activities are cost-effective.

3

During my time abroad I was able to reaffirm my determination to work for development. I was originally assigned to work in the finance department of one of the fortune 500 companies in Sydney. I went in with an open mind to the internship, thinking maybe I would like it and it would teach me more than I would think. However, after 1 week at the internship I realized that I was not doing what I wanted to do, that I was working with a purpose that was not aligned with mine. I decided to resign from the company and look for another internship. Thankfully, I was able to find my current internship through help of a third party. I didn’t learn anything new about myself, but my resignation was a good reminder of what I believed in.

5

My experience abroad has definitely instilled a sense of wanderlust in me. I’ve always had a little bit of wanderlust but this internship want me to pursue a career in which I am relocated every few years to be able to experience a new culture and work in a different place. If I could’ve done anything differently, it would be to properly account for all the personal expenses I would have living here. I had many excursions into different cities and countries from Sydney and I think properly accounting for that and preparing for it financially would’ve benefited in the long run. Not that it would’ve saved me a large amount of costs, but better prepare me for what was to come.

Lastly, this internship abroad has definitely allowed me to practice some leadership skills. To me, being a leader partially means being able to recognize an opportunity and capitilizing on it. I knew that the non-profit I was working for was doing good work and I really believe in their mission statement to try and quantify peace. I thought it would be a good idea to try and create a partnership between IEP and my pro-bono consulting group back at Michigan, 180 Degrees Consulting. I was able to acquire them as a client this upcoming semester and now I’m going to be the project manager in charge of leading a team to help consult with IEP. Through this opportunity, I was able to hone and develop my leadership skills abroad.

Nabiha – Dhaka, Mirpur, and Chittagong, Bangladesh

I worked with OBAT Helpers, an NGO in Bangladesh, conducting ethnographic research on maternal care in Urdu-speaking minority camps in Bangladesh. I explored how women in these camps accessed and used maternal care and whether their status as minorities affected their access to care. I informally interviewed several pregnant women and mothers across the various camps located in the cities of Dhaka, Mirpur, and Chittagong. I observed the interactions between dais (traditional birth attendants), ayahs (nursemaids) and biomedical physicians with their patients. Also, I observed births in clinics and in homes. I will share the data I collected over the summer with OBAT Helpers in order to help them build a maternal care program.

My trip has completely altered how I look at the growing presence of biomedicine in developing nations and how that has affected maternal care access and use. The ubiquitous advertisements advising against the use of traditional birth attendants has majorly affected women in the camps. There is a stark difference in how women give birth within the last fifteen years in Bangladesh due to the growing emphasis that has been put on maternal care. This was evident in how women who had recently given birth talked about pregnancy and birth and how their mothers talked about it. However, the larger use of biomedical clinics brought its own set of problems and discrimination. Due to the poverty these women faced, it was difficult for them to find clinics they could afford and often had impending loans from deliveries. Prenatal appointments were few and far between and due to the unhealthy environment, there were often more complications in the birth which would entail a (expensive) cesarean section.

Sitting down with women, allowing them to relay their stories, struggles and joy was an awe-inspiring experience. It was something I truly enjoyed and felt fortunate to be given a chance to relay their stories. However, the reality of the world of research and nonprofits became quickly apparent to me. The conditions and struggles of the women were incredibly difficult to hear especially without actively being able to alleviate those struggles. It required me to keep my emotions in check so I would not startle the women or move the attention away from them. The workers of OBAT Helpers would often echo my feelings and made me realize that patience and compassion required to work in their fields. They helped me understand that even when everything seems bleak, you have to take it one step at a time. They taught me what true leadership meant. In the face of complex problems, leaders relied on their passion, optimism, and dedication to eventually reach their goals. This experience gave me even more respect for the workers of non-governmental organizations. I hope I can continue to work for the benefit of others and to take my lessons with me on my future endeavors.

Pauline – Cape Town, South Africa

This summer I ventured to South Africa to indulge myself in this country’s healthcare system in order to learn as much as I could in a short 6 weeks. I first interned at the South African Christian Leadership Assembly, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on public health projects. More specifically, SACLA specializes in home-based care in Nyanga, a township on the outskirts of the city of Cape Town. Most of the home-based care patients suffer from chronic illnesses, diabetes, hypertension, cancer and TB being the most prevalent, so a large part of my internship was shadowing and assisting the nurses with checking patient’s vitals, such as blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Another large aspect of my internship with SACLA was preparing community integrated health workshops for the chronically ill and assisting the home-based care nurses with presenting them to the patient’s within the community. These workshops were focused solely on primary prevention for those who have yet to be diagnosed with a chronic disease, but also treatment and explaining healthy living for those who had already been diagnosed.

Unfortunately, my time at SACLA was short-lived because of a safety issue, so I was relocated to a health clinic in Retreat to continue my observations of South African health care and my education of their system. At my internship with Retreat Day Hospital I became a clinical observer and was able to interact with the doctors and nurses as well as have conversations with them about South Africa’s healthcare policies and get their personal opinions about their system. Through my internship with Retreat Day Hospital, I was able to observe nurses and doctors in multiple different departments, including ARV, Injections, Psychology, Trauma and Maternal Obstetric Unit. Rotating through these different departments widen my perspective of how the clinic functions when handling a variety of health circumstances.

After this experience, I really hope to take what I have learned about South African public health tendencies and healthcare policies and combine that with what I already know about these topics in America. In addition, I hope to assess the tendencies in both countries on a deeper level to gain a personal understanding of what flaws are within each system as well as the pros to be able to produce an ideal healthcare system for future communities all over the globe. Though I am obviously not a policy maker or do not yet hold the power to do this, I think it is valuable for me to keep this in mind when I eventually go into public health and nursing, which I plan to do after undergrad. Having both of these very different perspectives and experiences under my belt, I believe this will makesme a valuable employee within the health field. I feel as though I will be able to bring innovative public health ideas and practices from my experiences in both countries in order to better address global health disparities.

In addition, my time in South Africa allowed me to develop and grow personally to an extent I would have never imagined. South Africa allowed me to be my best and most exciting self; not only in terms of the activities and fun things I did, but also in terms of my internship experiences. Some of the activities I did abroad, like shark cage diving and walking with lions, were things I would have never in my wildest dreams foresaw me doing. In addition, things like seeing a man’s head wound get cleaned and sutured by a nurse or seeing a live childbirth were also not experiences I was anticipating on this trip. That being said, all these opportunities led me to being a much more open-minded and experienced person in the most amazing way. Thinking back to these experiences, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

After my summer in South Africa, I see the world much differently. I see the world as a place I wish to travel and explore, but also a place where I want to build mutual understanding with. I desire to travel but only in an appropriate way, which is with respect and an open mind in order to gain the most valuable perspectives.

Miki – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

I spent my childhood frequently moving between Tokyo and an underdeveloped region of China. This experience made me realize that many social issues, including poverty and human rights, are greatly correlated with commercial systems and business operations. Ever since, I have been active in exploring ways to practice business principles that would bring out positive social changes throughout my education. This intern opportunity is where I can further develop my skills and understanding of social entrepreneurship, as well as a platform an experience, to turn my passion and knowledge into impact.

The Cambodian government recognizes the importance of diversifying the economy and stimulating entrepreneurship to alleviate poverty. However, it is challenging to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities that are economically sustainable and socially responsible at the same time. One of the most effective tools to create opportunity for the poorest is to extend credit to poor entrepreneurs. When carried out as part of a well planned campaign, microfinance can be the difference between an unstable temporary job and sustainable self-employment. The business development project let me contribute my knowledge and talent to microfinance initiatives in Phnom Penh. Not only I was utilizing my skills, I was also training the locals to effectively use the funds when managing their business, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the projects.

The organization I work at is called Farmer Livelihood Development (FLD). Under it, there are subsidiary social enterprises that contribute to different aspect of developing lives of rural Cambodian farmers. The subsidiary I worked for was called Khmer Farmer Product (KFP). KFP serves as the medium between the commercial market and the poor farmer in rural area of Cambodia with little or no knowledge or business skills. KFP is a social enterprise that packages, trades and markets products on behalf of farm businesses and small­scale handicraft and food processor groups, all of whom were trained by FLD. It allows former trainees to gain commercial confidence in their new skills, and facilitate them entering the commercial market.

Though it may sound like an opportunity where I contributed to the community I worked with, it is actually an amazing chance for self-development. With this chance to explore what I am passionate about , I can now take every step following in life with firm faith and unstoppable belief. The ones who march on a path that has never been visited before are the ones who truly inspire. And those people are true leaders who make a difference in the world.