The Equip Mozambique Process
Gone are the days when Mozambique consistently needed immediate food, aid, and shelter to keep their own people from dying. Mozambique still desparately needs help, but in a different way. How do you help without individuals or the country becoming dependent on foreign aid or deaf to the cries of their own people? Read below to learn how we approach cultural development.
How do you leverage a small team to accomplish large tasks? You make sure you have the right people in the right places. The Equip Mozambique team places a major emphasis on discovery and learning; making sure that we are partnering with the right people and doing the right thing before we commit resources to a project. Read below for some of our keys in successful discovery:
Before real learning can take place, we often have to realize how much we don't know. We seek to ask far more questions than we answer and help others with their vision before we ask for help with ours. In a culture used to being told what to do, we've found this humility is the best way to approach discovery, and it gives Mozambicans the freedom to tell us about pitfalls and potential issues.
Mozambique is still highly class-based and the poor don't talk to the rich; expats and locals rarely talk unless they have business with them. In treating others with respect and equality, we make sure that we are not coming up with plans for the poor but coming up with plans with the poor. It also allows us to break down stiffling class barriers and treat everyone with dignity.
In the process of discovery, we seek to spend a lot of time with the local Mozambicans, seeing first-hand how business transactions, family obligations, and their surroundings impact them. Through these friendships, we can often tell about the character of the people we are working with by how they treat the people around them. A little time spent upfront learning more about our potential partners can save a lot of pain in the long run.
Have you ever tried to motivate others to do something their heart wasn't in? We have too, and it's not easy, especially if you are a volunteer organization. Before we partner with an organization or individual on the ground, we look for 3 major things:
If the individual or organization isn't more committed to the project than we are, we won't even touch it. We seek those who have a vision to help their people and who have a track record of action instead of just ideas, which is of importance especially in central Mozambique. We are particularly interested in projects that have already been started, have significant national support, and are not reliant on external funding. We also seek to keep any projects as much in the hands of Mozambicans as possible.
Even the best ideas and most fool-proof plans can be sunk by people without godly character, especially in a country where such character is the exception and not the norm. Many great projects have been sunk because the leader has a double-life. To avoid that, we don't do the character-seeking alone; we work with the local church and our leaders are accountable to both us and the church body.
Is the partnership something that just needs help getting started or is it a long-term commitment? We thank God for those who are called to set up long-term partnerships and connections as Mozambique still desparately needs orphanages and schools. However, our calling is to get things started and back away. Starting partnerships with the understanding that there is an end date means our partners are much more serious about making sure their projects get up on their own two feet.
This is the most fun part of what we do; giving Mozambicans the tools to change their country and cheering them on from the sidelines as they accomplish the impossible. While the first two steps need to be completed by someone on the ground, we often reach out to others to help us with this step.
A major advantage of being American is the ability to plan and coordinate. This ability is severely needed in most Mozambican endeavors. Many amazing Mozambicans have a vision and motivation to do it, but have no idea where to start. By sitting down and coming up with a plan, the Equip Mozambique team can give steps to reach that goal that may have seemed impossible before.
Sometimes we are not the best people for the job. However, if we aren't, there's a good chance someone else we know is. If a Mozambican project that is outside of our talent pool, we seek to connect this project to knowledgable people in the west with the desire to help. In this way, we can often make a major impact. Examples of leveraging American knowledge include our work on a radio station, video production business, and Mozambican documentaries.
What tools or knowledge will be needed to make the project a success, and how can we provide that in a way where the Mozambican knows this is still their project and their work that created it? We give out knowledge freely provided it's used for good. Equipment can be trickier, but we've seen breakthrough with our rent-to-own projects. Best of all, the Mozambicans know it's their hard work that created their project and not western aid.