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From: Increasing our impact – Footsteps 50

How to understand the impact we are having and adjust our work accordingly

Impact of electricity

One way that we measured the impact of bringing electricity to a village was to go back and ask people to consider how electricity has changed their lives. We divided the villagers into men’s, women’s, and children’s groups. Some of their comments were:

Bob and Haedy Liu, Project Grace, China

Women’s status

One issue raised by health members working with Jamkhed Comprehensive Rural Health Project concerned the status of women. These indicators were chosen by village workers to show whether women’s status had improved or changed as a result of their work:

The indicators were measured before and after their work with communities.

Impact on the poorest

If a person has one piece of clothing and you help her obtain another, that is a tremendous development. To have a change of clothes opens up the whole world and re-establishes her human dignity.

If someone who can afford only one meal a day moves to a situation where they can afford two meals a day, that is development of the highest order.

Keep your eyes on the poorest people.

Muhammad Yunus, Founder of Grameen Bank

Invisible impact

At a recent consultation in Oxford, UK, where 140 people from 50 different nations met together, many shared moving stories of the impact of their work on the communities they served. These included children rescued from prostitution, drug addicts freed from their addiction, violent societies being transformed and working together. Lorraine Muchaneta working with FACT (Family Aids Care and Trust) in Zimbabwe, talked of her work with those infected with HIV and their families. She and her volunteers spend time with dying patients and their relatives and friends, giving them comfort, hope and value. She commented that while their impact on the carers and the changes in attitudes within the Church are visible; with the terminally ill themselves, the fruits of their work are not seen on earth. However, many make their peace with God before they die. Some of the impact of our work may only be fully enjoyed when we reach heaven.

Rose Robinson

Impact of new wells

When a new well was built in a village in Myanmar, people who used the well were asked to mark with a piece of chalk on a nearby wall to show the time of day. Over several weeks this simple exercise both helped assess the use of the well by villagers, and also helped the users to plan their visits to the well, thus avoiding delays at the busiest times.

Violence on the streets

Participants at a workshop on conflict resolution in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, discussed indicators to measure violence. One suggestion was to measure the amount of broken glass swept up on the city’s streets each morning. Another was to ask women whether they were willing to walk down certain streets.

Questions to help assess impact

To measure impact is very difficult, but extremely important. When you write proposals, set up goals which are possible to measure.

On the first day of a training course, ask people ten questions relating to the training. Then ask the same people the same questions at the end of the course.

I encourage every trainee to use a diary to record their daily activities and plans. This helps them to look back and see what they have achieved during a certain time. This helps them to consider if they are meeting the goals in the original proposal.

Rodhe-Maria and Martin Klopper, Jian Hua Foundation, China

Persecution

Tearfund partner Armonía, in Mexico, has made the interesting observation that the level of persecution their staff suffer can act as a useful indicator of their impact on the local community!

‘We try to be loving, careful, patient and wise in the way we do things, presenting our Christian values with a servant attitude so that people do not react against us. However we have discovered that harassment often occurs when we are successful.

We have seen people get angry when we change values within a community. When we succeeded in our teaching campaign against alcoholism, people got angry, began to gossip about us, even saying that we were evil people that stole children. Another time we were effective in encouraging people to use their own means of transport to help one another. Some local taxi drivers realised they could not exploit people any more and became very aggressive towards us.

It is interesting that we have never been harassed because we have Christian meetings, pray, sing and study the Bible. However, what is clear is that our success in destroying wrong things within a community, such as the selling of drugs or helping people not to be enslaved by others, has caused us problems. We believe that the best explanation for this is that Christian work within a community brings light into the darkness. Some people will not like the light because they are children of the darkness.’

Saul Cruz, Armonía, Mexico

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