When we started this work, our Health Bridges path, we spent a lot of our time and efforts “doing for.” We mobilized resources, organized volunteers, and implemented projects. Ours was the mode of action.
“Doing for” is good work. It is essential to work. It is not, however, the type of impact that leads to long-term, sustainable systems change. To elevate our actions to another level, we had to change our focus from “doing for” to “doing with.”
Shifting our efforts to collaboration meant we moved away from the idea that we somehow owned our work and into the understanding that everything we do is in collaboration. This partnership approach to service and development has guided our efforts for over a decade. We work closely with the communities we support. We listen attentively to their needs and desires. We spend the necessary time and effort to understand the complexity of the challenges they face fully.
Credible experts have long established the training curriculum and materials for newborn resuscitation. There has – however, been a gap between the curriculum and implementation. Through years of collaborative service, we have gained insight into how to help catalyze change. For our Newborn Resuscitation Training Program, this means assisting groups and professional associations to bridge the pieces of standardizing and facilitating training in saving babies lives. We built the bridge that allows agencies, institutions, and professional guilds to implement their team of trainers.
Regarding our work with vulnerable and marginalized youth, we have learned that there is no one solution to the enormity of the challenge in child welfare. There is no single solution. With significant commitment, we have invested in learning the complex gaps in child welfare care delivery and support. We are using that knowledge to build a model and platform that will help reshape care for thousands of Peruvian children living in residential, group, or foster care environments.
The work of walking with and alongside communities is a great responsibility. It takes enormous investment in relationships and personal connections. It is a fantastic way to work; the collaborative, community-centered partnership type is the only type that will create change.