Sunday, August 14, 2011

Week 6: Project Planning & Development

Lance Rawlins was born and raised in South Africa and began working with YWAM in Cape Town in 1993. He served in several different roles over the years with an emphasis on development in Southern Africa. He currently heads up the Field Connections Program within the Women and Children's Advocacy Centre which focuses on capacity building and empowerment of initiatives to women and children at risk in the developing world.  He taught on project planning and development.  My thinking, life goals, and life plans were challenged, stretched, and grown over this past week.

Lance started out the week by asking us why we thought this week was even necessary in the children at risk school.  He then reminded us of a statistic we have heard constantly throughout this school: 60% of children’s ministries fail within the first 2 years, due to: lack of or mismanagement of finances, lack of a plan, staff (not enough or lack of training), isolation-they feel alone in meeting the needs.

I don’t want to become part of that 60%- I want to be included in the 40% that succeed. I am a visionary, which means I love to give ideas, and think and dream big.  But when it comes to planning and as Nacho Libre says, “getting down to the nitty gritty,” I have a hard time putting details together.  Lance took us through scriptures to show us the Biblical bases for planning, and when it comes down to it, we serve a God that plans before he acts.  We serve a God that dreams big, but gives detailed plans of how to get there. 

We talked about different ways to enter into a community; the first one being a needs-based approach, and the other being an asset-based approach, which is more holistic in nature.  While it might be easier to see a need in a community and work to fix it, the community won’t be transformed until the root of the need is addressed.  And work like this takes time.  It takes time, patience, and perseverance to see transformation in a community.  He related it to a story about an old reform church wanting to move their organ from the middle of the church to the side.  So they decided to move the organ one inch every Sunday.  People can handle an inch at a time, instead of 10 meters of change all at once.  As we go into communities, we might just be making changes one inch at a time, but it will come.  It might take 6 months for them to think a little bit closer to what God thinks, but it is worth it in the end, and as we persevere, we will see the change that God is pushing for in the community.

On Friday we were given the majority of the time to put into writing a project of our own.  For many of you that know me, you have heard me talk about working with a community and getting the children who are out of the education system an education.  For the first time ever, I put my vision into writing- and wow, it is a lot bigger than I ever thought it was! 

Here is a small piece of my long term project:
Project goal: within the course of 4 years, the amount of children ages 6-12 who are not in the education system will decrease by 50% in a rural community of 5-7,000 people
People targeted: A community in Central America, children who are primary school age who are currently not getting an education, or at risk of dropping out.

Before my project could start, I would work as an educator in the community, and investigate the current system and situation for those who are being educated, and those who are not.  I wrote a list of about 50 questions that I would need to ask, but here is just a few to give you an idea:
  • ·      What are the current school like in the community (student-teacher ratio, location of schools, how far does a child have to walk to get to school, current education of teachers, teacher pay-rate?)
  •       What are the national education laws? (mandatory education until what age, child protection laws, laws for refuges/non-citizens)
  •       What is the enrollment rate?
  •      What is the dropout rate and what motivates students to drop out?
  •      Why are students not enrolling?
  •      What socio-economic & social factors prevent students from enrolling?

I leaned that as I make my project, the plan must be specific, measureable, attainable, relevant, and have a time value.   

Throughout the week, I asked so many questions of why this, and what about that, and is this Biblical, and what does this look like in a real situation.  By Tuesday after class Lance approached me and thanked me for my many questions- which just encouraged me to ask even more. 

After this week I feel like I’m dreaming bigger than I ever have before.  We were told this week, “You want to dream to somewhat scare you.  If not you’re not dreaming big enough.  You want your dream to be attainable- but BIG enough that God has to work and to move.”

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