What Do A Swimming Pool, Oven And AMCHAM Have In Common?
It’s hard to believe but I am two thirds through my Pulse assignment in the Philippines. Time has surely flown by. As I begin Volunteer Awareness Week and the several activities I have planned, I find myself reflecting on sustainable change. Have I created sustainable change? How do I measure it?
A model for sustainable change will challenge not only you, but everyone else affected. The key for me is ensuring the change lasts far after my Pulse assignment ends. I began last May to prepare and create a business plan for lasting impact. The plan was a work in progress because I had limited information before I came to the Philippines. The key I found once in my assignment is to maintain create an environment that supports and nurtures change. Without this, even the best idea for change will likely die in my absence. To that end, the prerequisites to achieving sustainable change require involvement, effort and commitment from all who are involved.
Awareness needed to be built. If the organization or individual is not aware of your desires, goals and intentions, it is virtually impossible for one to contribute their fullest to the change efforts. Ensuring all are fully aware of your planned change program empowers them to determine and act (individually or collectively) in ways that best impact progress. To this end, I have introduced ADP and held consistent training for my coworkers. Each individual understands their potential for contribution and forward goals because they fully understand the situation, the goal and the plan for “closing the gap.
One needs to confirm the desire and motivation it takes to sustain change. You need to ensure everyone involved has the motivation and desire to act. All the awareness in the world means nothing if there is not the motivation to do something about it.
So far, I have identified three ways I have created sustainable change and am confident these plans will last far past my assignment.
First, free swimming lessons are offered to anyone who desires to learn by me. Seventy eight percent of people in the Philippines can’t swim and it is one of the leading causes of death. “About eight persons die everyday due to drowning and that more were reported to be victims of near drowning (10 cases per day),” a Philippine report presented at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP) 2011 said. Thinking back to my water-front occasions with friends in June or early July, most wore life jackets or only waded into knee deep water.
Fast forward three months and I have taught twenty seven SAVE employees and friends to swim. I literally have teared up as I watch each one swimming with me. Not only have they learned a life skill, they are able to enjoy swimming in pools or the ocean.
They have conquered their fear of the water. This is certainly a sustainable change and I am so grateful they won’t drown if suddenly encountering water. I plan to have a celebration in December and organize a discovery scuba dive with them. That is something each would not have dreamed possible in June.
Second, every week I volunteer at one of the children’s villages we serve. Here, I am teaching the children to cook and helping them have the ability to eat a more well balanced diet. Recently, the house mother told me how her stove had broken some months back and she couldn’t afford to replace it. That really limited her cooking options. I helped to secure Mamma Beth a new oven and range top. What was a few hundred dollar sacrifice to me, will bring them lasting results for years I expect.
We have celebrated with two feasts. Last week, we cooked chicken curry. The children loved a meal with meat, a treat, that’s otherwise too expensive to buy.
This week I took a couple of my girl friends and we taught them how to make lasagna. It was a tasty treat indeed. The kids picked up fast and made the second pan completely themselves. Now they not only know how to cook tasty treats but have the ability to prepare baked items as well.
Third, my work at Save is bringing in new sources of funding and awareness of the children’s plight in local communities. I have gotten Save involved as a member of the American Chamber of Commerce of Manila (AMCHAM) group. Here, I have opened doors and met with twenty two companies to date. Most are now partnering with Save or participating in the Sparebucks payroll-giving initiative. Save never had an external company participate in a payroll giving project to Save The Children.
I have organized global conference calls with other Save countries so we can collaborate on Fundraising ideas. It has helped several country’s SAVE offices to bounce ideas off of each other.
The number of internal employees who participate in payroll giving has quadrupled. I traveled around to all our Save offices to explain the program, brand the sites and recruit employees.
Traveling around to our projects with external individuals, direct mailings are now being created to solicite new donors and donations. Save’s most underfunded projects now have a voice. I am amazed how few wealthy Filipinos understand Save’s work or how great the need is. Thankfully, this too is changing. The mailings will include photos, giving voices and faces to the poor.
So I will answer the title question.
A Swimming Pool:
The commonality of these items are simply the three key ways I have achieved sustainable change during my assignment in the Philippines.
Lastly, you don’t have to be on a Pulse assignment to create a sustainable change in a community. We all can get involved and do something. Will each of you join me in celebrating Volunteer Awareness Week? No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” said Aesop. As my friend, Georgiana Waltz says, ‘Be The Change!’