Thurs Jan 13One of the many lessons learned from 3 years of work in the DRC is that you cannot survive alone in this country; if you are to have a long-term positive impact, you have to find like-minded organizations with whom you can partner. We camewith a list of principals of partnership. Some examples are:
- Commonalities between partners’ value systems are necessary but not sufficient for partnerships to be productive and mutually beneficial; the ability to work together is equally important for partnerships to thrive.
- Each partner has to be able to achieve their own goals better working together than alone; each needs the other to be more productive.
- Although inequalities will always exist between partners, each partner respects the autonomy of the others, and trusts in the goodwill of each to be able to resolve conflicts as they arise.
How, I found myself wondering, does this actually work in practice? How theoretical it all sounds on paper, how impossible it seems in reality.
But GBA was founded on a determination to seek partnership with Congolese and their institutions – and this requirestime – lots of it – patience and persistence. That is why we came to DRC on this trip – to honestly wrestle with themeaning of partnership, partnership between GBA and PAID, between GBA and UPC, between PAID and other localNGOs, between GBA and other like-minded organizations such as FINCA, World Vision, Save the Children…
So, today, we visited the Central Congo Methodist Episcopate and had a long talk with Bishop Yemba and his righthand man, Adolphe. Several months before this trip, we discovered that the Delaware Methodist Conference in the US supported a Health Clinic and Feeding Program in Mpasa I, just 5 km or so from PAID. Why not explore the possibility ofpartnering with them for the sake of the two Mpasa neighborhoods?
So, discussions between Jon Baker in Delaware and Jim and I in Bloomington led to our meeting with Bishop Yemba herein Kinshasa. The Methodists are interested in agriculture – PAID has property to develop a farm, 125 hectares of land! The Methodists have a health clinic and experience with a feeding program – the orphans and children in the PAID school desperately need health care and adequate nutrition. It doesn’t take a medical degree to see that many of the childrenhere are malnourished, such tiny little arms and legs, and children so small for their age.
So partnership works in practice through faithfulness. Faithfulness without implying faith in a God; in this case, it means a deep-down determination to believe that life can actually be better, some day…how the Congolese I know maintain this faith is beyond me, but they sure do. It isinspiring. Without faith and hope, there is no way to survive here, personally and organizationally.
But, I have to keep reminding myself, all GBA can do is facilitate the possibility that PAID and the Methodists here inKinshasa can find a way to mutually benefit from a partnership. I find myself having to let go of a desire to “make thispartnership happen” because it seems so obvious to me that it could result in a productive relationship…that is not for meto do…Let it go, Ann Marie…I am learning to say that a lot these days!