Every year, in preparation for Outreach’s summer Magazine, we solicit reflections from our field staff around the world. From those submissions, we choose a handful for publication, but due to space restrictions, cannot include every submission in print. Since we’re consistently so proud of our field staff and so thankful for their hard work, we’d like to spotlight their thoughts here for all to see.
Thanks again to everyone in the field, working hard to make a better world.
Field Staff: Nancy – Philippines
Just this year, the people in the community of Villa Corazon has finally completed the construction of their 22 units of Small Farm Reservoirs (SFR). As upland farmers, they can cultivate their farms only during rainy season (June to December). Now that they have SFRs to catch and store rainwater, they are excited and happy as they can still continue farming and harvesting crops during dry season (January to May). When they talked to me about how they systematically implemented their SFR project, I felt their happiness and pride… but I am happier and more proud than them for what they accomplished. Their SFR project could really change their economic situation, but it is the experiences, lessons, and capabilities they earned by working together, by talking and planning about their situation that can really change their lives.
Field Staff: John – Malawi
I am very happy with the Mjuma community [in Malawi], as we all share in the joy resulting from their efforts in local reforestation. During the initial planting phase, they did not see the importance of the project and its impact, but as the trees have grown, so has their confidence and ability to imagine a better future. Their “garden” of pine trees provides their community with easily accessible firewood, sparing local women long trips to go searching outside their community for it. This firewood can be used for community members’ own needs, or sold at market to increase members’ annual income. For these reasons, those living in Mjuma now see the trees as a means to provide for their families’ basic needs both now, and in the future.
Field Staff: Mona – India
I feel proud to share news of my work in the Kuljing community [in India]. Through continued facilitation of Kuljing Jyoti group leaders, locals came to join the other members of their community in group projects, providing labor and support for their group’s sanitary toilet project. So far, they have constructed 33 toilets, benefiting 157 community members, with work to construct 111 remaining toilets at nearly 90% completion. My pride is doubled by the fact that other agencies have witnessed our success in Kuljing and introduced Outreach to local leaders in nearby communities.
Field Staff: Maria del Carmen – Bolivia
I am pleased to share the change of Faustino R., the treasurer of Pajchapata Group [in Bolivia]. He was initially fearful and nervous when he began working in this role, but worked hard to learn the details of his position as time went on.
During the community demonstrations [during the “role play” phase of the Outreach Process], Faustino felt safe, and performed his duties confidently, having practiced before the performance. His experience dealing with the community’s financial resources, as well as his previous visits to the bank to make deposits, withdrawals, and handle paperwork, allowed him to confidently showcase these skills to the assembled community members during our monthly meeting. Faustino currently knows how to document costs, tabulate expenses, and visit a bank without fear. Now the other group members are actively participating, motivated by the actions of Faustino, a small but very strong man!
Field Staff: Chrissy, Malawi
For the past 12 months, I have been amazed by the growth in the communities in which I work, Bokosi Dindi Dapilani and Peter Ndabandaba. The residents there have come to trust me as we have gotten to know one another, and now they call me by different names: “our daughter,” “our sister,” and “our friend.”
It has been so interesting to watch how women participate in the meeting through sharing their ideas, answering questions, and even helping men in the community do some of the work that has traditionally been viewed as “men-only” labor, according to their culture. The women of these communities lead discussions while the men listen, then follow. Until recently, the women were too shy to express their views in public.
Together, Bokosi Dindi Dapilani community members have worked to address the issue of poor-quality of water in their village, which has drawn water from a nearby river since its founding in 1950s. After contacting different NGOs, as well as the government, their proposal to drill a community borehole as a means of obtaining clean water was approved by Outreach International, and now serves as locals’ primary water source.
I’ve been so impressed this year to see the other projects within my communities being sustained and improved, continuing their impact in the lives of those who worked to achieve them. As word of these successes travel to other communities nearby, it has helped spread awareness of Outreach’s methods, and empowered those groups to work together to conceive of and execute their own projects, without Outreach’s involvement. Good work leads to more good work!