“The greatest opportunity for diverse training, broad networking and inspirational encouragement” will be made available to a number of Heartbeat International overseas affiliates through scholarships to Heartbeat’s Annual Conference, to be held in Seattle April 14-16, 2020.
Those interested must apply soon, because scholarship applications are due by January 30.
Recipients will be notified of their awards once decisions are finalized February 7. Eligible life-affirming organizations—or individuals actively exploring how to create one—must be affiliated with Heartbeat International directly or through one of the nine regional/national Joint Affiliation Partners (JAPs).
International Program Specialist Ellen Foell says not yet being affiliated shouldn’t keep people from applying.
“All they have to do is email me and we'll work it out,” Foell said. “We really try to encourage affiliation with regional or national networks simply because those are the organizations that have boots on the ground.”
However, she stated, not all nations have Joint Affiliation Partners—yet another reason to attend the conference, where they may be able to network, meet like-minded people, and possibly even find others from their own nation.
Conference attendance pays numerous dividends
“Even in the States there is a sense we can have that we alone are the ones in this battle,” Foell said. “Imagine being the only center in a country. Now you translate that into ‘I alone am left’ for those people, and then they come and they see that there’s a worldwide network of pregnancy help centers, life-affirming organizations, doing what they do.”
“They walk away from the conference encouraged and filled up,” she said. “They have new ideas, a sense of camaraderie, and a team they haven't had before.”
All international affiliates who attend the conference participate in carrying their nations’ flags to the main stage during the Parade of Nations, held one night of each conference. Foell noted that the ceremony holds deep significance for all attendees.
“Life-affirming organizations are part of God's plan to transform culture,” Foell said. “So how is culture represented? By language, and visibly by a flag. When an organization has the opportunity, the privilege, to carry their national flag onto a worldwide stage, that means something to them. This is not just about saving women and saving babies. This is about transforming culture.”
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Last year, Heartbeat International’s Heart of the Future award went to a 26-year-old Romanian pro-life leader, Alexandra Nadane, who is taking bold steps toward the transformation of her own culture.
“I look at someone like Alexandra who is humble, and yet when she is moving within her calling, she is not a wallflower by any means,” Foell said. “When she came to conference last year, I think it confirmed her own calling and her own ministry in the pregnancy help world.”
Another of last year’s international scholarship recipients—Claudia Lopez, executive director of Heartbeat Colombia—came immediately to Foell’s mind just last week when a Colombian woman called Heartbeat’s Abortion Pill Reversal hotline. Foell said that having met the director at conference saved her valuable time identifying someone to help the caller preserve her 12-week pregnancy.
More international affiliates invited to apply
Foell estimated that somewhere between 300-375 international affiliates have attended the conference in the last 15 years.
“There are very few countries in the pregnancy help movement that have not been represented at some point,” she said.
Some scholarships cover registration and meals; others also pay for accommodations.
Foell said she would readily answer questions and would help initiate affiliation for organizations without that piece in place.
“I just want other internationals to have the benefit of attending,” she said. “Heartbeat does a great job of making that possible, thanks to its donors.”
Those donors, she explained, are “supporters who both love internationals and have a vision to see the worldwide pregnancy help movement encouraged, sustained, and advanced.”
Editor’s note: International affiliates hoping to attend the 2020 annual conference are encouraged to apply HERE.