We always wonder if what we are doing actually makes an impact. There are cultural barriers we have to deal with and often, what we ask of our partners, is against their cultural norms and instincts. Last March we came to Uganda and did 2 and ½ days of training with a group of Nannies, Social Workers, and Teachers from an orphanage we work with. This orphanage works with children ages 0-5 and they are mostly able to reunify families or place children in adoptive homes in their community. They do some international adoption.
We met with them today and were not sure what we were going to talk about or why they wanted to meet before the training. I am intimidated by this orphanage director because she is all business. She does a great job running things and her baby home is doing well because of it, but she will tell you what she thinks. And sometimes honesty is brutal (like today when someone said “Sarah! You have gained weight!” Duh, you are supposed to pretend I did not!)
When we sat down the director said, “I have some feedback from your last training” (we trained on Trauma, development, grief/loss and attachment). And then for 15 minutes she talked about the impact it made on her staff. Only the English speaking staff came and when they went back to work they would say “That nanny did not attend the training, I can tell). She then organized a 2 hour training every day during nap time so those that attended our training could train those who did not. She said they did a wonderful job and studied every night to make sure they did a good job. They encourage each other and say “Remember at the training, they said to try this”. The only complaint was that the certificates were not “pretty”, so we are making them new fancy certificates with seals and color on thick paper…
Sometimes I feel people are just listening to me because I am American, but have no plans to implement what I am doing or think it all sounds good in theory, but in day to day life nothing changes. It is so heartwarming to think that coming all this way really does have an impact. That the knowledge we are so blessed to have in the USA is making an impact globally and being shared. And because of all that, the lives of vulnerable children are changing for the better.
And tomorrow, we start again, with the same group and may more… But I also think they are coming because we hand out prizes….