Thursday 12 May 2011

Partners in mission

I have heard many say to me in the past:
Why are there so many charities in Africa?
Can't you all work together...? Surely you'd get a lot more done...?!

Well, I'm not sure about that! Let me explain...

The idea of working in partnership with one another is a fantastic thing. Being in communication and building up the value of communications among people working in Africa has been on my heart, ever since I joined AfriCom. I believe that there are many ways to build good relations across cultural, spiritual and physical barriers. 

But does that mean we should all join together and be one? 

Just take a look at the way in which YWAM works. It's a decentralised organisation, made up of people who have a passion to serve God. But each ministry, school, location and team is different. There are a myriad of different things going on around the world, and that's just in one organisation. Imagine multiplying that by all the agencies in the world. 

It usually starts like this: an individual develops skills and passions to, let's say, rescue children trapped in violent/dangerous circumstances. They publicise what they do and gather like-minded people. I see the communications aspect of this is to value what they do and support them by communicating their message in an appropriate way so that partnerships can be made - maybe even point them towards others who are already doing what they do and get them to work together. Also, get the message out so that the wider world is aware of the need. However, if all the work came under the same organisation, rather than releasing and empowering people to do great work and build partnerships and friendships, it would become bogged down under a mountain of bureaucracy and red-tape. Just take a look at most government initiatives! Rather than being able to respond to immediate needs, a hierarchy of command makes decisions in some office on the other side of the world for issues that are - more than likely - beyond their understanding. 

That is why I value the communications team being in Africa and connecting and empowering local people here to be the communicators. Working effectively in any part of the world is about seeking to engage and understand the culture around you and work in a way that empowers, embraces and encourages good things out of it. 

I have just returned from Johannesburg where we were discussing with the communications directors of other big agencies (IMB, Wycliffe, AIM) the idea of sharing ideas and resources, so that we could effectively communicate both what we, as individual agencies are doing, but also see the bigger picture of our respective work in Africa. Hopefully as these meetings develop, more agencies will be involved and we can work in partnership with one another, when it comes to communicating both within Africa and to friends outside the continent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you might as well ask, why are there so many charities in the UK though. i suppose it's the same kind of thing.