She Advocates for Healthcare Workers' Lives
Everyone’s lives changed in one way or another because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but healthcare workers were among the groups impacted most. Beyond the recent crisis, healthcare workers are often on the frontlines, risking their lives to help those in need. Project HOPE is an organization that’s been advocating for these heroes for over 60 years.
“Our mission is to place power in the hands of local healthcare workers to save lives across the globe,” says Cinira Baldi, vice president and chief development and communications officer for Project HOPE. Her company supports healthcare workers as their work relates to complex crises and fragile states, climate change and effects on global health, refugees and migrants, and disaster response.
"These children just wanted to feel safe and loved, but in that moment, they gave me something most valuable: I remember feeling so much love from them."
“To bridge donors and constituents to the people whose lives we impact around the world, I utilize fundamentals of marketing; audience insights, analytics, and research to achieve market interest; develop strategic partnerships; and create engaging storytelling,” she tells CircleAround.
We caught up with Baldi to learn more about Project HOPE, and what it’s like working for this organization.
CA: What inspired you to work in the nonprofit sector?
CB: I grew up in a household of changemakers who both worked for USAID and lived internationally. My father, who is Mexican-Italian, spent his career working on international development and health-equity issues. My mother spent her life’s career working on environmental issues, impacts on health and women’s health, and equity causes.
Little did I know that midway through my career, I would come full circle and begin doing the same type of life-changing work as them.
CA: What is something you’ve learned is essential for healthcare workers in particular?
CB: Throughout my career, I’ve been focused on making sure that everything we do is through the eyes of our constituents. In the case of humanitarian aid, emergency response and global health work, people want to help even if they are not able to travel to a disaster or emergency response, so we try to build that opportunity for them to give back.
Each focus has a unique story — and that story becomes even more compelling when you can share the first-person experience of a midwife we trained in Sierra Leone or Indonesia; a frontline worker we trained on COVID-19 preparedness and response in Wuhan, China; or a doctor we equipped with mental-health and resiliency training in Indonesia.
CA: What have been some of the highlights working with Project HOPE?
CB: While I have many exciting moments from my corporate career that were gratifying, none can surpass the human-impact moments from humanitarian work at Project HOPE.
The moment when I get to board a flight to visit one of our programs in the field is what motivates and invigorates me. The moments of human-to-human interaction and experiences with people whose lives you’ve improved or made better is life-altering.
One moment that really stands out for me was a few years ago. I left my twin 4-year-old daughters and went to Amman, Jordan, to visit beneficiaries of the work we were doing. I spent five days meeting with Syrian refugees, listening to their stories, sometimes sharing tea, and visiting two of the largest refugee camps.
I remember a specific visit we were doing to a children’s safe space. I was on Day 3 and pretty homesick. We walked into a chainlink playground and, out of nowhere, about 25 children of different ages ran up to me and started grabbing my pant legs and holding my hands. I stopped everything we were doing and sat down on a curb with them. I took out my cell phone and began showing them pictures of my twin daughters. Two of the girls took my notebook and pen and began drawing pictures for my daughters. We took pictures together; we tried to interpret what each other was saying; we sat in the sun and just bonded.
These children just wanted to feel safe and loved — much like all children do, but in that moment, they gave me something most valuable: I remember feeling so much love from them. To this day, my daughters have those drawings.
Moments like these aren’t just career moments; they’re life moments.
CA: What has changed in the past year, and what is on the horizon for Project HOPE?
CB: Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China, pandemic response has been a top focus point of our global health and humanitarian work worldwide. Health workforce development and capacity-building is a priority to meet surge demands as the pandemic has spread. To address this, we worked with Brown University to innovate virtual training on COVID-19 response and preparedness that have now reached over 85,000 frontline health workers in over 150 countries.
As we start a new year and vaccines have begun rolling out, we are also identifying other areas that we can assist in, such as reducing vaccine hesitancy, vaccine administration in overwhelmed health systems, and continuing to address surge support in high-volume cities’ hospitals.
"Moments like these aren’t just career moments; they’re life moments."
However, we're also unwavering in our focus on how this global health emergency has threatened progress on other top health priorities that require ongoing attention and action.
Importantly, we're focused on how COVID-19 casts a spotlight on big issues critical to our communities today, including health equity gaps common among women and BIPOC, and the health impacts of climate change, particularly for people in vulnerable areas.
CA: What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone navigating a “new normal” in 2021?
CB: Remember that everything you do has a cumulative effect in your life — both the small stuff and the big stuff. Don’t ever second guess or question if you made the right career decision. What you've learned will always be a part of your toolbox for the next chapter in your life.
This post is part of a month-long January CircleAround series in which we asked writers to explore the topic "What Comes Next?" Now that we’ve (thankfully) turned the corner on 2020, what can we expect from 2021? Business-wise and family-wise, mentally and spiritually. To see all the posts in the series, visit here. And if you'd like to contribute to the series, send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on our "2021 Vibes Wall."