The year-long Global Community Development Evaluation ended with a conference in London, called ‘The Way Forward’. Salvation Army project officers from around the world had opportunity to discuss the process they had been through and look together at ways in which they – and The Salvation Army – could go on doing good things better.
Major Alex Nesterenko, Divisional Commander, Ecuador:
My biggest challenge is when I see we are helping in one community while there are other communities suffering from poverty as well. Also, it is sometimes difficult to encourage a community to change its mentality.
For instance, the Monterrey, Vitarte, community in Perù is very poor. Unfortunately, they might still be in the same situation in 20 years time because their mentality won’t help them see a different future. We need to talk to the people and to encourage them that if they work together, their lives will improve – but the initiative needs to come from them.
The conference helped me think how I need to analyse all situations, discover the real needs and think of the impact the project will have on community life as well as to the donors.
The evaluation has been important because it helps us to see where we are going with a project. It helps us to improve our work.
Puisi Chan, Director of the China Development Department:
There are many people I remember from the projects I have been involved in. One that stands out is Dan Dan. She is from a school sponsorship project that was linked with a community development scheme in a community with a high prevelance of HIV/Aids.
Dan Dan was close to dropping out of school because her father is infected with HIV and her mother has gone away to find work. She was silent and withdrawn but became very emotional when she spoke about her mother.
We kept visiting Dan Dan every time we went into the village. She became more cheerful and opened her feelings to us. The opportunity of her continued schooling and her family’s involvement in the development project have given her a new perspective on life.
Every time we mention Dan Dan in our office we are encouraged and excited with the changes our projects have made.
Lieut-Colonel Prema Rajan, Chief Secretary, India Central Territory:
The most important thing I learned at the conference was that recipients as well as donors need to understand the circumstances and situation of each other. Evaluation makes us realise our mistakes and helps us to avoid making them again.
The community must be involved and they must be consulted. Projects have to be set up according to the community’s request and need. They should own the project and, where possible, they could even supervise the work. Honesty and integrity are most important in working like this. The local team must be involved so culture and customs can be noted and respected as much as possible.
The Salvation Army is different to other organisations involved in development work because it cares for the whole person. Also, the love of Jesus is shared with people and they are led to the Lord Jesus if they are willing. Salvation Army members are placed in the community and are available at any time for help and counselling.
Séraphin Edy Kanda Bonazebi, Projects Administrator, Congo (Brazzaville) Territory:
The conference has been most helpful to me. It has been an autopsy which revealed to me the root causes of unsuccessful projects.
I have learned that I must have a clear understanding of the outcome of a project. I must perceive or foresee the goals to be achieved, that I will be working to. This will then lead to the design of the project proposal.
I will make sure that utmost care is given to the implementation of the project at every stage and that we always focus on the goals as a beacon light for me and all those involved in the project. I have also learned that there must be evaluation of every stage while the project is in progress.
This new understanding, focus and determination will make a great difference to my work as a project officer.
It is obvious that if an organisation does not evaluate its works it is bound to continue to tread the comfortable path of despicable mistakes.
This evaluation has been a redeeming tool for a better management of future projects that will help us to achieve our goals successfully and thus fulfil the mission of The Salvation Army.