The International Rescue Committee
I joined the IRC's Innovation Center, Airbel, shortly after it's inception as a full-time Design and Innovation Lead, and I continue to collaborate with them as an advisor and consultant. The Airbel Center's mission is "to design and test life-changing, scalable solutions for people affected by crisis. By bringing together field staff, designers, strategists, researchers and technical experts, we aim to uncover and nurture ideas that make a big impact on people's safety, health, education, income and power."
The following are a few highlights of projects from my work, past and present, with Airbel and the IRC.
REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT IN THE US
With recent attempts to ban refugees from coming into the US, refugee resettlement is under profound threat. At this crucial moment more than ever, we need to find new innovative, scalable and cost effective approaches to support incoming refugees so we can offer them the best support they can get through an extremely difficult transition in their lives.
Our team is focusing on three streams of innovation that span from uncovering new financial instruments for resettlement, new approaches to private sponsorship and new and improved mechanisms and modes of service delivery for refugees in the US.
This project is under way in collaboration with the IRC's US Program Department
During my time with Airbel, we were a young department experiencing rapid change on every level. I was involved in developing and implementing a number of crucial transitions throughout that time, including brand development, mission/vision development, team building, initial presentations of the department to the IRC as an organization and overall strategy to seamlessly bridge design with the humanitarian aid world.
How might we enable local community health volunteers (CHVs) to deliver timely immunizations to all children under 5 years old?
In the aftermath of the Ebola crisis the healthcare system in Liberia had taken a toll and was eager to implement changes that could strengthen its weakened system. We hypothesized that local CHVs could be equipped and trained to deliver vaccines in the most rural and remote regions of Liberia, but needed to test the theory before moving forward with implementation.
Our small team of two (an immunization technical advisor and I) set out to rural Liberia to understand the real challenges of vaccine delivery and the role of CHVs in the communities. Interestingly, our hypothesis was wrong. It would not be a good idea to involve the CHVs as we had hoped, but the process did open up several interesting opportunities to strengthen the vaccination process that we had not seen before.
Combining these new opportunities with an in-depth review of immunization approaches from around the world, we developed a set of guidelines and proposed approaches to guide Airbel's approach to immunization into the future, in Liberia and beyond.