The second session is designed for you and your team to understand that you are one piece of a much bigger picture. It is important for you to know who you are partnering with and how your team fits. Remember to leave time to answer any questions about planning and preparation at the end.
Suggested time frame: 2.5 hours over a meal (based on 8-12 member team)
1) Your Team
Watch a welcome video message from George Snyman, founder of Hands at Work in Africa.
2) purpose of teams
The purpose of teams is putting people in a location where God can do his work with them, in them, and through them. It is an entry point for what participants can do in the long term; it is just the first step in building a relationship.
Teams come to Africa to Learn, Serve, Encourage and Participate.
Learn: To experience Africa first hand is an amazing learning experience, and your short term trip is just the beginning of a potentially long journey. There is great value in understanding the country being visited and the issues faced by its people. Learn the name and story of a child that touches your heart.
Seeing first hand, means every participant can return home equipped to advocate for the most vulnerable in Africa and educate those in their circle of influence. Three things we would like your team to walk away with are:
- Deeper understanding of how you can build relationship, partner and engage with that community going forward
- Deeper understanding of the Hands at Work model of care
- Deeper understanding of the needs and resources of the community you visit and build relationship with
Serve: You will make an impact by working alongside the Care Workers and building relationship. Your presence and listening ear are a huge encouragement to the Care Workers. Serving does not necessarily mean to “do”. First you must “be”. Being present with the Care Workers and not focused on tasks is to truly serve.
Encourage: Serving shoulder to shoulder demonstrates encouragement in very a practical way. The Care Workers are in the field day in and day out. They are caring first hand for the children and community members. Often these Care Workers are rejected and unappreciated by their community and you walking with them confirms the value of their work.
Participate: Over the years Hands has learned that classroom-style modules are not how local African volunteers learn. Building relationship and sharing one’s spirituality, skills and knowledge while serving alongside the Care Workers is what works. Visiting teams come as the learners and should not be standing up front as the “experts”. I can teach someone how to do something by modelling that skill as I keep silent and listen to their story. I am not their saviour; I am a friend who can inspire: to keep hope, keep their energy strong and model a positive way of life.
- Teams are encouraged to interact with the Care Workers as much as possible – great impact comes from learning about these volunteers who often come from backgrounds just as broken as the children they serve.
- Team members can build relationships by asking Care Workers what they will be doing on home visits, asking for the back story on the family, offering praise and encouragement on what is observed on the home visit.
- Because of the backgrounds of many of our Care Workers, although they love and care for children, they can be hesitant to interact with the children publicly and play with them outwardly. In Africa, children are often seen but not heard. Your team can be a positive example to the Care Workers of how to engage the children and make them feel valued. This can be when you see the children at the Community Based Organisations (CBOs), feeding points and on home visits. Modelling and affirming the value of relationship with the children through supporting, listening and interactive play is a simple, practical way teams can make a long term impact on Care Workers and their community.
Giving is Important but Very Sensitive
Teams will see needs; it is in our nature to jump in and help. It is a difficult challenge to know that these needs could be met, and at times easily. It is important to understand that the desire to meet these needs is real, but no matter how easily the need could be met the situation is extremely complex. Teams should not come into a community looking to solve their problems, instead these communities need to be empowered. The injustices that the community is trying to address will remain even after school fees, clinic fees, medications or food is paid for by teams. The desire to help is not wrong, but it must follow the proper channels to ensure that is does not disrupt the integrity of the community’s development. We encourage teams to wrestle with the injustices that characterise the world we live in, keeping in mind that in the end the best solutions will come from the community itself. Once you are on the ground you will meet people who support the local communities in our Local Offices in Africa (Regional Support Team) who work very closely with the communities. These are the people you must speak to privately about meeting any need you see on the ground.
Hands at Work Community Development
Hands at Work has a very clear strategy about how we serve the community and address their needs. When you arrive in Africa you will be introduced to a tool we use called Building the Wall, which comes from the story of Nehemiah in the Bible. This is a tool we use to assess the needs of each community and make a plan with the community to address those needs.
If at any point you feel that certain needs are not being addressed we encourage you to feel free to ask questions. Please do so with a member of the Hands at Work Regional Support Team (RST) once you have left the community. These issues can be sensitive so they need to be addressed properly. You may get a chance to discuss how Building the Wall relates specifically to the community that you visit with a member of this RST. You can then discuss priorities and see better why certain challenges exist.
Read through this scenario.
This is a story of a Care Worker named Happiness who is a volunteer in a Community Based Organisation in rural Zambia. Happiness regularly visits the most vulnerable children in her community. On the visits she often has to bring children to a local clinic for treatment. She advocates on behalf of these children, to have the doctors help them for free as they cannot afford clinic fees. From the beginning the doctors have been hesitant. They see many vulnerable patients and often hear the same story. As Happiness has faithfully continued her work the local doctors have begun to recognise her and see the work she is doing. They have now started assessing and treating children for free; utilising their own resources.
Now instead, imagine in the beginning Happiness is given the clinic fees, by a team member and does not need to advocate for the children. These funds will pay for the most vulnerable children to receive clinic fees for a month. What happens when this money runs out and Happiness has to take the children, to the clinic with no money to pay for fees or medication; especially after she has been paying the fees for a month?
Teams, however pure their intentions, can cause irreparable damage by offering short term solutions to long term challenges. They may be creating short cuts that stunt a community’s development.
- How does this scenario disrupt this community’s ability to look for solutions to their own challenges?
- If a team does give gifts directly to people when they are in the community, what do you imagine the community’s response will be to the next team who visits them?
- The impact gift giving could have on the relationships that you build in the community.
4) Team Building
Team building is not something that is accomplished in a single afternoon. Team building is an ongoing process with results that will become apparent through time. It will take the effort of all individuals to develop into an efficient and successful team. With the mixing of many different personalities, styles and preferences, obstacles are sure to arise so it is important that one is able to learn how to resolve any difficulties and take preventative steps to avoid any complications.
As the team leader it is important for you to encourage team building and healthy communication amongst yourself and your team members. Lead your team in a fun interactive team building exercise to encourage bonding amongst your team members.
5) international office
International Office refers to the local Hands at Work office in your home country. It is important early on for you to understand the role of the International Office. You will need to arrange someone from the office to come and meet with the team or a Skype call if necessary.
International Office: As teams have returned from Africa, the story of Hands at Work has spread around the world. In some countries, there are large numbers of participants who have set up their own networks at home. These groups have birthed International Offices which now support Hands from: Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, Germany and South Africa.
Upon returning from your trip, there will be much opportunity for you to become involved with the International Office and continue your relationship with Hands. There are volunteer opportunities available for you to support Hands International Offices and Hands can assist you with any fundraising and advocacy projects you may want to be involved in.
International Offices are in a position to help teams to stay connected to the relationships and partnerships you build across Africa.
Close your session with prayer; encourage team members to participate.