By Enliveninternational, 2017-01-19
Partnering with other organizations and individuals is not just one step in our process, its the crucial step that keeps us alive. As in the lives of individuals, one would have to live a dismal and uninspired life without relationships. Why would the system look any different for an organization? Our partners, and the relationships that they cultivate, keep our fire burning, so to speak.
Last year we were on the hunt to hire a director of operations for our base in Nicaragua. After many long days of back to back interviews and meetings, we were feeling extremely tired and slightly hopeless. Jonathan was our last interview of them all, and within the hour of meeting him in the lobby of a hostel in rural Nicaragua, we were convinced we had struck gold. A long interview turned into a late dinner where we learned that Jonathan would come as a package deal with his fiance´, Anielka. Yes, we found it difficult to pronounce her name correctly as well, so lets just go with Ani. Ani joined us for dinner and ice cream that same evening, and afterwards we each crashed in bed certain that we had found our new team member, but surprised that we had found friends in them as well.
We spent the next day traveling through Nicaragua together, talking about our hopes for this country and listening to one another’s stories. We learned that Ani and Jonathan had met years beforehand when Jonathan left his life in California behind to move to Nicaragua. Ani grew up in rural Nicaragua with six siblings, all raised by a single mother. When Ani was a teenager she witnessed something no child should ever have to watch, her mothers slow death caused by cervical cancer. In honor of her mother’s life Ani went off to university, a rare opportunity having been raised in such a rural environment, and graduated with training in cervical cancer prevention.
You see, cervical cancer is the number one killer of women in Nicaragua and yet is easily diagnosed as well as treatable. What you have to understand is that Nicaraguan women are generally ignored and rarely given the opportunity to give light to their struggles, needs or desires. This has produced a generation of silent, longing women. Not having the opportunity to get health care, education or treatment, an alarming number of Nicaraguan women are dying, rendering an alarming number of children motherless. Anielka took notice to this, and has started one of the only organizations in Nicaragua that is fighting against this disease. Shortly after graduation, she founded The Lily Project alongside a determined team of doctors with a simple yet revolutionary goal:
To be the most trusted provider of health services for women and girls living in rural communities. Their mission is to prevent cervical cancer for over 200,000 impoverished women in Nicaragua.
Jonathan and Ani have relocated to be closely integrated in La Colonia, a community that enliven and Lily Project work within. Anielka and her Cervical Technician, Hortencia, have officially established a Lily Project base in La Colonia and are providing the women and girls of this village with health education and treatment. Within the first 3 months of The Lily Project in La Colonia, 4 women were identified with pre-cancerous cells and were treated. That means 4 families that wont go mother-less. Education and treatment of this killer disease indeed saves lives, but it also speaks value. The treatment that Lily provides silently speaks, “Your life is worth saving.”
Now with enliven’s help, the same women of La Colonia who once had little community are coming together as an organized unit and choosing to change the culture of La Colonia. They have started the first ever organized women’s group, with their own goal, to better their community and the future of their children. So far, they have established their first project, purchasing and reselling clothing at affordable prices to the community at large. This project has allowed the women to begin to work alongside each other while answering the critical need for clothing in a way that keeps scarce funding in the community.
PARTNERSHIPS PROMOTE ORGANIZATION, AND WELL ORGANIZED COMMUNITIES ARE IMMENSELY MORE DETERMINED AND STEADFAST.
Enliven is determined to create sustainable work and added value to the women and men of La Colonia. Lily is determined to promote abundant life in the lives of women and girls. Two organizations working along side each other to support the community’s goals and future. It isn’t the projects that make what we do worth it, its the relationships. It’s Anielka and Jonathan, Hortencia, the farmers such as Harving and Jairo, their children, and the women of La Colonia.
WE WANT TO BE AN ORGANIZATION THAT READILY ACCEPTS THAT WE CAN’T GO AT IT ALONE. TO LEARN EVEN MORE ABOUT WHAT A PARTNERSHIP WITH ENLIVEN LOOKS LIKE, CLICK HERE.
By Enliveninternational, 2017-01-19
When thinking of poverty in direct terms of a person’s (or a nation’s) livelihood, we generally call to mind starving refugee children, squalid living conditions, unprevented preventable diseases, seemingly incapable people, and a routine feeling of guilt. Guilt that perhaps we are not directly assisting those impoverished nations well enough, and if we are – why are the statistics about those living in poverty still paralyzingly huge?
There is a constant murmuring in the general public when speaking about charitable giving that says “We are not doing enough. We are obviously not doing enough.” or “We are doing too much.”
There are two highly contrasting yet valid arguments here, but I’ll allow people that are much smarter than me do the talking. Jeffrey Sachs from Columbia University argues that foreign aid is key because
“IT CAN KICK-START A VIRTUOUS CYCLE BY HELPING POOR COUNTRIES INVEST IN CRITICAL AREAS AND MAKE THEM MORE PRODUCTIVE.”
On the other hand William Easterly from Columbia University contrasts that “Aid does more bad than good: It prevents people from searching for their own solutions, while corrupting and undermining local institutions and creating a self-perpetuating lobby of aid agencies. The best bet for poor countries is to rely on one simple idea: When markets are free and the incentives are right, people can find ways to solve their problems.”
So, is there no middle ground here? Is it possible to merge these two solid arguments to create an influential force against poverty? Or shall it always be a warring choice between not helping, and avoiding dependency or helping and avoiding poverty but risking a myriad of generations dependent on outside aid and unable to problem solve themselves?
Overwhelming, yes? Lets take a step back. We enter a crippling zone when thinking about the poverty trap in terms of millions of unseen faces instead of just people. People that are stuck in dreadful circumstances and yes, they need help and money. But these people that make up the overwhelming statistics need us charitable givers to speak to their value as a people group as well as our skills and money. When thinking of poverty, all of those things listed above sure are huge factors. But what about these thousands, millions, of people that operate with the mindset that they don’t deserve to be freed from poverty? What about lack of cultural worth? Value and worth may sound like emotionally flippant concerns but the lack of value and worth in people is as constant a variable in impoverished communities as economic dread.
When we walk into poverty stricken places and say “Here is money, do this or that with it”, we are communicating lack of trust in the fact that these people have minds of their own. Thus, communicating that we are much smarter than them. Thus creating dependency.
But what if we looked less at statistical graphs and looked straight into the eyes of an impoverished person and asked, “What do you need? What do you dream of? Where do you want this money to go?” What an abundance of value that would speak to the mindset of these fatigued cultures. Philosopher Peter Singer from Princeton University points out that the majority of us would jump into a shallow pond to save a drowning child, then says that everyone with the ability to do so should help a little to prevent the thousands of child deaths occurring every day in the growing world. Essentially, none of us would decide against saving the child in order to teach them a lesson about how to swim. YET, once that child has been rescued a valuable second step might be to invest in swimming lessons. Go to Singer’s website www.thelifeyoucansave.com to learn more about what they do.
We must break the belief that lack of resources speaks directly to a person’s value.
We have the ability to give greatly, yes. But we also must harness our ability to speak to the destitute and say, “You are worth wading in the pond for. You are worth investing in. Your situation is miserable but you are not.” This is not to say that a few words of encouragement will terminate poverty and all of its traps. We are not “off the hook” by hoarding our resources as long as we speak nicely to those in need. As an organization we believe in both. We believe in investing in people and we believe in empowering them to believe that they are worth investing in, thus creating a culture of autonomy. We have seen people that were once trapped set free simply because we believed in investing in them, and they learned to believe it as well.