As a way to promote the incredible work our Host Organizations are doing and to spread the word of the substantial impact Atlas Corps Fellows has on their teams. Today, we are sharing a story of the Hunger Project and their experience with Atlas Corps Fellow Debra (Class 44, Zimbabwe).

The Hunger Project

The Hunger Project is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty through sustainable grassroots and women-centered strategies.

Fellow Supervisors: Sara Wilson

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Sara Wilson

Hometown: Boulder, Colorado, USA

Role at Organization: Associate Director, Global Communications

Social Issue/Interest Area: Food and Housing Rights

Fun fact: Once met the Dalai Lama

Why did you decide to host an Atlas Corps Fellow?

We’re a diverse team here at The Hunger Project. Our colleagues are from and/or live all over the world and hosting an Atlas Fellow was in line with our long history of operating with this global mindset. Our Global Communications department, specifically, values the voices and perspectives of individuals with varied backgrounds and expertise to best tell programmatic stories with dignity. The Atlas Corps Fellowship seemed like a unique opportunity to build on that diversity and power of voice.

Why did you choose Debra as your Atlas Corps Fellow?

Debra’s technical skillset and experience presented both alignment with and opportunity for our Global Communications department. In particular, we were intrigued by Debra’s understanding of policy frameworks, digital marketing strategies and background in investigative journalism. We were also deeply value aligned in terms of women’s rights. And once we met Debra during the interview process, it was clear she would be a wonderful fit on our team.

How has Debra developed professionally so far? How has her presence had an impact on your team’s dynamic?

Debra’s professional goals include, among other things, a desire to be a representative or public voice for a cause or an organization. During her time with The Hunger Project, she has had the opportunity to lead team projects with colleagues globally, representing our Communications department on a broad internal stage. She’s additionally stepped into opportunities to represent The Hunger Project as an organization at UN and other professional events. It’s been wonderful to see her growth in this arena as she develops her confidence and leadership style.

How will Debra’s contributions and insights impact your organization in the long run?

Among other things, Debra has been tasked with collecting and telling powerful stories from program areas in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Through new or improved channels of regular outreach to our global team, she’s not only elevated the voices and stories of both programmatic participants and colleagues, she’s building systems of connections and collaboration that can be carried on after she’s left The Hunger Project.

What has Debra taught you? Have you learned anything special about her culture?

Debra has taught me so much! Culturally, I’ve learned about how to greet your elders at Zimbabwean family gatherings and how Southern African cuisine varies by region. Professionally, Debra has shown me new ways to map narratives and has provided valuable insights into how we tell stories about programs, re-centering the voice and perspective.

How is your experience acting as an Atlas Corps Host Organization?

The Atlas Corps Fellowship has given The Hunger Project an opportunity to work with someone who we might never have crossed paths with otherwise, given geographic and financial realities. Our quality of work and team culture are better, richer, and generally more dynamic with Debra on our team. We hope to continue hosting Atlas Corps Fellows in the future!

Fellow: Debra (Class 44, Zimbabwe)

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Debra Nhokwara

Hometown: Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Role at Organization: Global Communications Fellow

Social Issue/Interest Area: Women’s empowerment and gender

Fun fact: I have a new love for cold coffee even after insisting that I would certainly not be drinking one

How is your experience with your Host Organization impacting your perspective? 

Being at The Hunger Project has made me understand social development from a different lens, on how investing in our communities can lead to economic development, and reduce poverty and other inequalities. One of the greatest lessons has been understanding hunger and its impacts at a global level. I like to refer to it as the politics of food because it intersects with a lot of social issues—if we work on ending hunger, we stand a chance of solving some of those social issues.

How has your experience with your supervisor impacted your perspective?

Sara is not only a great supervisor; she has also become a friend and a mentor more than I ever imagined. She has a saying that has helped me become a better version of myself. I don’t think she knows that I have made it a thing. She usually says, “Whatever you do, make sure you set up the next person for success,” referring to the quality of work one delivers. This has motivated me to push myself to do my best because my success is also someone else’s success. If I fail to do my best, it affects everyone I work with and my organization at large.

How will you build upon the skills and knowledge gained during your Fellowship once you return to your home country?

I believe I have become a better storyteller in conducting communication for development. After joining The Hunger Project soon after finishing my Masters, one of the challenges I had was transitioning from academic writing to narrative writing. I am grateful for the team I work with and for their unwavering support through the process because I am now confident in my writing. 

What is your most important career advice for young, talented social change leaders across the globe?

Change is change no matter how small the action may be because a year from now you will wish you had started today but it might be too late then.

More about Atlas Corps

Atlas Corps partners with mission-driven organizations (nonprofit, private, and government) to facilitate a professional exchange program for the world’s best emerging social change leaders to live and serve during a 14-month, full-time Fellowship that begins remotely in their home country before transitioning to the United States. The Atlas Corps network currently includes more than 1,500+ professionals from 115 countries who have served at 400+ organizations.

Interested in becoming a Host Organization for an Atlas Corps Fellow? Fill out Host Interest Form.