Working under this kind of pressure also requires that we overcome hurdles together and that we celebrate successes, big or small. It's amazing to see the group spontaneously applaud their colleague for getting a record number of concept notes in, for getting those airplanes to deliver the food to the far flung areas or for winning a big grant from an institutional donor...
When Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines, almost all of Plan International's areas were hit. We were well prepared. We had worked with communities to stockpile hygiene kits, emergency shelter materials and clean water kits. Yet, the magnitude of the super typhoon and the devastating effect of the storm surges were much bigger than anyone could have imagined.
On the way to Salcedo we passed through several towns - all affected to varying degrees by the power of the typhoon. The worst was Hernani - most houses had been washed out to sea or destroyed. The ashphalt had risen up together like mountain ranges combining - the force required to do that is incredible.
The devastation is total, although fortunately there are some villages where the material damage is enormous but the death toll is not too high. We now have an army of technical specialists from our international office here in Manila, in many cases also acting as technical experts and guides for experts and assessment teams sent to the Philippines by other donors, because Plan International has been working in the affected region for decades.
It is imperative that post-Millennium Development Goals, currently being negotiated, do not overlook the plight of the disabled people and children. It is time for concrete action to ensure that particularly children with disabilities have access to education, protection from violence and abuse; and opportunity to have their voices heard. This is not just a development agenda it is also a human rights issue.
We tend to forget that birth registration is a critical life event and that a birth certificate can make or break a child's future. Later in life, a birth certificate can help protect a child against forced marriage, child labour, premature enlistment in the armed forces or, if accused of a crime, prosecution as an adult.
Ngagne is one of thousands of children living in daaras in Senegal and across the mainly Muslim countries of West Africa, sent to the capitals from Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Mali. Known as talibés - Arabic for 'pupil' - they're posted far away from home by parents who choose to give someone else the responsibility, and cost, of raising their child.
World Water Day is today, a time to pause and appreciate a substance that is available to us so freely and cheaply in the developed world. It is a day to address the fact that 783 million people in the world do not have access to clean water - representing roughly one in ten of the world's population.
As the Delhi rape case rumbles on, girls in India have become all the more aware of the dangers of large cities. When we talk about the developing world we tend to focus on rural environments, forgetting that the claustrophobic, impoverished chaos of a developing capital can be the most challenging environment of all for a child - particularly a young girl.
A life without education leaves these girls even more vulnerable and with no real choices. It also limits the potential of her family, community, and country. In July, I traveled with Plan to India to witness firsthand the transformative power of education in the lives of girls and their families. I visited with mothers and children in a slum in Hyderabad and attended a Lambada tribal women's gathering in Andhra Pradesh. The women I met all said the same thing: entire families and communities are changed when girls go to school.