Sunday, July 27, 2014

"Out of Chaos" a Thank You

How many people does it take?
The Rotarian Magazine article is now available..."Out of Chaos. How do you help girls in Ghana escape poverty? You listen." - from the August 2014 edition by Diana Schoberg.

Today is about gratitude. Last week while I was riding my bicycle across the State of Iowa at RAGBRAI (the Register's Great Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa) The Rotarian Magazine published Out of Chaos an article about the work I have been engaged in with a cadre of people in Ghana with Street Girls Aid.

Thank you

So many people made this possible that there is no way to individually recognize everyone and so I feel compelled to share an umbrella thank you for absolutely everyone who has listened to the stories, heard about the processes, purchased goods, supported the process by donating material goods, funds, prayers, well-wishes, advise, a shoulder to lean on, a word of encouragement, to those who listened patiently and questioned to help develop a stronger process, and to those who will continue to develop and encourage and support - thank you, thank you, thank you.

To those known and unknown supporters, an important understanding in the indicators of success in capacity building is knowing that we must be detached from the outcome, because the impact and ripple effect of an individual's impact is so much greater than anything anyone of us can envision and hold on to. See my TEDx talk about capacity building for more information.  Know that your personal investment in this process has played an important role in this story.

There are a few people whose sacrifices and passion require a "shout-out" related to this article and I will gladly recognize:

Diana Schoberg

Diana excelling at the
head scarf tying workshop
This wonderfully written article by The Rotarian Magazine Digital Edition Editor, Diana Schoberg, captures so many of my beliefs and passion, I just can't thank her enough for being willing to take so much of her time and to dive into the question that brought her to Ghana as a member of our team - "What does "Capacity Building" really mean?"  And then to so succinctly and respectfully share the story - it was beautiful, thank you so much Diana. A special shout-out goes to photographer Glenna Gordon who came in from another country in Africa to take the gorgeous photos that capture, highlight and underscore the essence of story - thanks Glenna.The Rotarian Magazine article

Cathy Smith

Cathy can be found sneaking some
cuddling during the work breaks
I am filled with gratitude for Cathy Smith for being willing to to share her talents, time and heart into developing this capacity building model with me and dedicating so much time to an incredible process. Cathy has spent countless hours both on this process, and its precursor, our Rotary District 5960's exploration into poverty eradication - the Fast For Hope Initiative. Thank you Cathy, your care for people and desire to build confidence and capacity is second to none. Traveling to Ghana is not an easy undertaking and Cathy has willingly given her time to travel to Ghana 3 times to work through this process. Cathy would love nothing more than to travel to Ghana and hold babies and I am hoping that our return visit in February will offer her those opportunities in abundance.

Vida Amoako and Street Girls Aid Staff

Vida and her team at Street Girls Aid
during a workshop
Sammy, Irene, Phidelia, Vida and Fred
part of the management team at
Street Girls Aid, Accra, Ghana
Vida Amoako and the entire team at Street Girls Aid have been incredible partners in this process and when I think back to the first time I met Vida and her team in 2003, I have to smile...who would have known then that we would be here now? I love it! The time and resources that the entire team at SAID have spent to develop and evaluate this process has been invaluable and without their willingness to dedicate their time and passion this would not have been possible. Imagine your reaction to the phone call that asks if you would be
willing to let a reporter into your business 24/7 for 2 weeks? Vida, her staff and the girls so graciously welcomed our entire team and demonstrated genuine hospitality with grace and humor. All beneficiaries of this model owe them a debt of gratitude for being so vulnerable, honest and willing to risk and try something new.

Team Rotary

Diana with some of her Ghana Aunties
get into the local culture (from left to right)
Holly, Margie, Barb, Kathy and Diana
Earlier I referenced that Diana traveled as a member of a team, and I want to recognize that team, because traveling with an embedded journalist whose goal is to have a genuine experience required us to forget that Diana was writing a story in which we might be mentioned and over which we had no control (both the good and bad stories). We made team agreements at the beginning that we were a team, equal in the work load, in the learning and the responsibilities and that we had work to do and that was the focus of the training and the trip.

The team rose to the challenge and soon forgot about the "journalist", gelled as a team and focused on the mission of the trip and the grant. The dedication that the team demonstrated in carrying out their responsibilities was beyond the Rotary International motto "Service Above Self". Again, sacrifice, passion and selflessness created trans-formative experiences for all involved - thanks to Holly Callen, Barb Hanson, Margie Horning and Kathy Lillis. Many of the "behind the scenes" individuals and organizations who supported this experience, generously supported these team members and thanks go around again for all of you too.

Kay and Kirsten

Kirsten and Kay in the workroom
Phase I team members included Kay Bliss of Ojai, California and the Ojai Rotary Club and Kirsten Lindbloom of Austin, Minnesota. Their support and involvement in the earliest phases helped to inform the second and third phases of the model - thank you both for your flexibility and willingness to test something new and provide your wisdom and advise.

Rotary, Rotary International, The Rotary Foundation, District 5960, Fast For Hope

Theresa Haligah (Rotary Club of Accra)
 helps the team with
on the ground logistics
Rotarians, family and friends all over
the world supported us in so many ways
The Rotary Club Accra South
welcomes the team
I could write entire articles sharing about the ways in which each of these various entities impacted, supported and informed this 3 phase model and you can learn more by going to Return to Ghana. Over 30 Rotary Clubs have donated funds, support and material aid; clubs have leveraged their resources to provide access to Books For Africa, Ghana Book TrustLittle Free Library, as well as many other supporting organizations, The Rotary Foundation has provided matching funds and Rotary District 5960 provided the framework and innovation through their District grants process to develop the 3 phase model of capacity building.

Gary Campbell DG 2013-2014
sends the team off  in
 freezing temperatures with
Little Free Libraries, Deechas
and funds to purchase
 books in Ghana
Many of the concepts that we build upon in this 3 phase model were informed from District 5960's innovative poverty eradication efforts in Nicaragua under their Fast For Hope Initiative. Without all of the work on that initiative, these streamlined concepts would not have been as successful. Thousands of hours of dedicated Rotarians and Rotary friends and family have gone into developing a new method of delivering poverty alleviation services in the world through a District-wide effort. There are not enough words of gratitude that can be shared to explain the importance of that work in the work captured in this article.

All of our Family and Friends

An effort of this magnitude; the three phase model development, the multiple trips to Africa, the preparation, the financial and medical considerations and hundreds and hundreds of hours of training, implementation and then reporting and documentation could not have been possible without all of the support of our family and friends. All of us left family behind to pick up our loads, our responsibilities and to fill in during family emergencies, illnesses, holidays, and events, and did so knowing that their support meant that they were making a meaningful impact, that they were making a difference in their support and sharing of us. It is with heartfelt gratitude that I thank all of our families and friends for supporting us through these experiences and adventures - you may never see the direct impact of your contribution, but this article introduces you to some of the people whose lives you have impacted.

Available for Sale

The team brought back many beautiful hand batiked and sewn goods that the girls at Street Girls Aid made. Currently we have for sale table runners ($20), placemats ($25 for a set of 4), napkins ($16 for a set of 4) and wine bottle holders ($8). We will ship in the United States. If you are interested, please send an e-mail through the contact form in the left hand column with your contact information and you will receive further information. All of the items come with a story about the item and the girls and will be on sale as long as the items last - they make a wonderful gift and all of the proceeds support the grant.

And One More Opportunity...

Street Girls Aid is currently celebrating their 20th Year Anniversary and have lots of things planned. If you are interested in going to Ghana and learning more about how you can develop relationships and build capacity, contact me using the "contact me" form on the side column and I will let you know about future opportunities, or help you develop one of your own.


Cathy said...

Thanks Kathy for sharing your thoughts so eloquently! We all need to rebound that thanks to you Mama Caruso, for your travel expertise, your grant writing abilities, your tenacity, time, care, humor, passion, and zest to make this all happen. We don't even take step one if you weren't willing to take the lead. Sending hugs!

Kathy Stutzman said...