Planning, implementing, and even evaluating programs is fairly straightforward. In many ways - its a "paint by numbers" process. However, building successful programs is about more than some formulaic approach - its about relationships and the collaboration that comes from strong connections. This week we learned a great deal about growing programs. More specifically, I learned a great deal about putting relationships first.
The anemia project is a collaboration between the Peruvian Ministry of Health (specifically the "micro red Francisco Bolognesi del Distro de Cayma"), St. Helen's Parish (Father Alex and Vida and Compassion), Entia (a U.K. based medical device manufacturer) and Lucky Iron Fish (LIFE B-corporation from Canada). The focus of the project is developing an effective model for addressing iron deficiency anemia in children under 5 years of age in extremely underserved communities.
The story behind why we, HBI, are involved in this project is simple - we were approached by the Ministry of Health to help fund and implement the project in an underserved community outside of Arequipa where we've worked for over two decades. We used our connections to pull together a unique group of collaborative partners. We built a plan for the partner organizations to work together. And, we started the process of implementing our plan. This is where things got a little derailed. You see, the project is a Ministry of Health project - and we were simply asked to help with the funding and the development of the model. We weren't asked to take over the project.
In my excitement for the project - I got a little ahead of myself. I wanted to control all aspects of the project. I wanted to implement "our" project. I forgot about the number one goal of HBI - building bridges of collaboration . . . fostering and supporting meaningful relationships.
Sure, the project is built around a truly important public health need - iron deficiency anemia in children under 5 years old - but for HBI, our role is really about helping to bring the partners together and then evaluating the impact of the collaboration. This is what the Ministry of Health asked of us - and this is what we are really good at doing.
So, as we have progressed further in the planning of the project and our role in the overall project, I've had to refocus my thinking and really dig into the notion of supporting the development of a model that brings together partners from around the world . . . a model that seeks to use the collective resources of collaboration to address one of the biggest public health challenges facing children under 5 years old in the developing world.
My goodness what a great project to be a part of - and what an important model to develop. We are really honored to be involved. And we are proud of our role in helping to build the relationships that will make this project a model of true collaboration.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.