One of my classmates has put up a countdown on-line to encourage us as we get close to finishing up our master’s program. We are now in the double digits and it is pretty exciting to be coming close to the end. I will have to say that I have learned so much about development, its real implementation in the world, and how development and faith intersect in people’s lives. That last one has come largely from the lives and testimonies of fellow classmates, professors, and others practitioners I have met along the way. I have also learned that sometimes the textbook way of doing things isn’t necessarily the most faithful.
The first class we ever took was on project planning and management. We learned how to write a good indicator, something that was specific, time bound, and measurable. Indicators are the targets that you have to meet that tell you whether or not your program is being carried out successfully. Indicators let us know whether or not we are doing a good job. Earlier this week during a meeting with the Emmanuel Center Executive Committee I heard an indicator of our work in Gamasara in trying to change the attitudes of the community in regards to women’s and children’s rights. It was not specific, time bound, or measurable, yet it filled my heart with joy as if we had passed a major milestone, and I guess in some ways we have.
A woman said that she had attended a church activity, returned home after dark and her husband had not beat her…First of all we need to pause there and look at the fact that this was something worth mentioning, which means that most other times that is exactly what he would have done. It is also worth observing that the woman expected to get beat when she reached home after dark and yet still found church a worthwhile place to be. However, what I am most excited about is that she was not beat by her husband, specifically because he had seen the benefit of the church and the benefit of the Emmanuel Center, and what these places had done for her life. His respect for the changes taking place as a result of the church and this program was enough to change his behavior and he is not even directly involved.
When we first started even we ourselves felt like we were taking the long way around the issue of women’s and children’s rights, but instead of rushing headlong into something that complicated we decided to take the slow path. We decided to economically empower women, then educate them, and lastly start working with the community only after our heart for them became evident. While we still have a long ways to go and while my trained mind knows that this is a bad indicator in that it is not transferable to others, meaning we don’t know if we have affected this kind of change on anyone outside of this one family, it still feels like a huge victory and something to praise God for.