Coaching Is Key
We have embarked on our second journey to Ethiopia with Global Hope Network International (GHNI). After we made sure our beds and clothing were sprayed down for bugs, we dug right in with the GHNI team to learn more about the progress since our last visit.
Many specialists come in and out of these villages. They make substantial improvements by giving wells, schools and more. These improvements are fantastic and help to give the villages the push they need to discover that positive change can happen. But what’s really needed is an generalist organizing mentality to help the village take its resources and develop long term sustaining behaviors that make the most out of these investments. That’s where the GHNI team comes into play. While these specialists come in and out of the villages, the GHNI team stays.
GHNI volunteers act as coaches, for a race that is not a sprint, but a lifelong series of marathons. They build trust over time and provide the villages with the skills and education needed in order to become self-sustaining. These coaches stay with a village for 5 to 7 years, not to become a part of the community per say, but to teach the community how best to work together. (Much like a basketball coach never subs in for his or her players on the court.)
Committees formed in the villages, by the villages are the key to the functionality of this group’s efforts to create self-sustaining communities. Committees are formed in 5 key areas: Water, Health and Wellness, Food and Agriculture, Income and Education. It is up to the coaches to educate these committees on how to lead. The committee members are the heroes of these stories, rather than the volunteers. They determine the best plan of action for their village and how best to execute it. They move away from simply feeling gratitude and begin to feel accomplished and confident in the work they are doing. In any project they take on, the work lies on the shoulders of both GHNI and the villagers. They act as equal partners, learning and growing together.
Committee formation is considered to be a master skill by GHNI standards. After all, ultimately it is the committee that keeps the work going. Forming a committee means building trust, acting as a partner and showing genuine concern for the well being of the community. Coaches have to convince the villagers that their money and their ideas can make a difference. They tackle low cost, low-tech, locally resourced projects together in order to demonstrate just how a community can thrive on its own.
It’s inspiring to see these villages discovering this fundamental truth and the confidence they gain. We find ourselves reflecting on our own teams and how this model applies in any area of the world, even in business.