05 April 2018
Written by Becky Parry
Last month, CoMO members came together in Singapore to attend the 7th CoMO Global Conference. 42 delegates from 27 organisations flew in from around the world to attend the two day conference, which focused on identifying ways that both our members and regions can be empowered. The jam packed weekend saw:
Through the sharing of member stories, ideas, and information and resources, our conference delegates were able to discover new ways to develop both their own organisations and regions.
We opened the Global Conference with introductions from each organisation. Hearing from so many people reminded us of how indiscriminate meningitis is; from taking the lives of young children in Peru, South Africa and France, to leaving teenagers severely disabled in America and South Korea, we listened to our delegates share their accounts of how meningitis has affected, and continues to affect, their lives.
Paloma Gatjens from Una Vida Por Dakota and Deidre Fredericks from Meningitis Assocation South Africa sharing their stories
It was a real privilege to listen to so many incredibly passionate individuals. Several of our conference delegates founded charities after their own families had been affected by meningitis, and listening to their commitment to preventing other families from facing what they once did was deeply humbling and inspiring.
Over the course of the weekend, we heard case studies from several of our members:
Lisa D'Cruz from Meningitis Centre Australia presenting at the Global Conference
As a global organisation with 75 members from 34 countries, the majority of communications between our members occur digitally. Our Global Conferences provide our members with the opportunity to share innovative ideas and build new relationships. This helps our members to develop their own plans and increase the impact that they have both in their communities and internationally. A great example of this was at our Global Conference in Seattle, where the Spanish group Asociación Española Contra La Meningitis (AEM) presented their Malawi Ambibike Project. Having been inspired by AEM, in August 2016, The Emily Stillman Foundation from USA also travelled out to Malawi, where they recreated the Malawi Ambibike Project themselves!
By giving our members the time to share updates and present key learnings from completed projects, it is our hope that delegates from the 2018 Global Conference will create new projects or develop existing ones, based on or facilitated by other CoMO members’ experiences.
Sharing resources and information
Meningitis Research Foundation gave an inspiring presentation on their Meningitis 2030 project. Their research found that meningitis and neonatal sepsis are the biggest killers in under 5s globally, so they are bringing together several key stakeholders from the sector to develop a plan to help defeat meningitis by 2030. The majority of our conference delegates had not heard of the project and were delighted to hear that meningitis is being addressed from the top down.
Many of our members have reported a rise in vaccine hesitancy, so Maureen Moore, a member of CoMO’s Governing Council, ran an interactive session on how to discuss vaccination with vaccine-hesitant individuals. James Stuart, the head of CoMO’s Scientific Advisory Panel, also answered questions on vaccine surveillance and hesitancy, and two of our members presented case studies on how their organisations had addressed the issue in their countries. Armed with new communication techniques, vaccine updates and the experiences of others, conference delegates can now have more confidence in their responses to these questions.
Maureen Moore presenting at the Global Conference
On the Sunday morning, guest speaker Jane Binks, a fundraising consultant from Brakeley Asia, ran a two-part interactive workshop. Jane shared her top tips on how to write an effective fundraising strategy, how to best utilise resources, and how to build supportive fundraising communities. Members then worked in groups to develop their own fundraising and donor retention strategies. Although the groups were creating hypothetical strategies, the skills that the members developed can be taken home and transferred to their own organisations.
Our final session was an opportunity for members to feedback on what the key challenges are in their regions and how they can work together to strengthen campaigns, and how CoMO can best support these activities. It is in sessions such as these that new areas for collaboration are identified and common themes are discovered.
A huge thank you to all of our conference delegates and speakers for attending CoMO’s Global Conference. Although our time together was short, we identified key priorities and goals that will enable us to empower both our members and regions, and I believe that we are all now more inspired, united and ready to reduce the impact and incidence of meningitis worldwide.
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Becky works at CoMO's Head Office in the UK and provides communications, event and administrative support. She studied Philosophy at the University of Sussex and has a Masters in Human Rights. Becky has a background in international development and has worked for a variety of charitable organisations throughout her career.