I’ve spent much of this year helping people learn collective impact strategies in communities around the United States, but last week I did some learning myself – by seeing how collective impact is done in the country of Honduras.
Last week, I had the opportunity to present at the Sustainable Honduras Conference, a three-day event in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The purpose of the conference was to share ideas, learn best practices, network and discover opportunities for collaboration among NGOs, the private sector, government agencies and individuals supporting Honduras' socioeconomic development.
A kick-off to the event included dancers and drummers, and a presentation by Guillermo Anderson, a well-known musician in Honduras. He spoke of the arts programs that he leads for kids, including performance and recording. One thing that his program encourages is ‘dreaming.’ As he said, so often children in Honduras are focused on basic needs that they do not have a chance to dream. Throughout the three days, participants had the chance to reflect and share their dreams for collective impact on Honduras’ complex social issues, including clean water, violence prevention, education and access to electricity and healthcare.
I heard about relationship building that is focused on mobilizing partners who are the ‘moral centers’ of the community. These partners shared the ups and downs of building partnerships and maintaining engagement for community violence prevention. They shared lessons about the interstitial work that goes into these relationships, such as a collaborative vision for a community logo, as well as the joint work of tracking violence prevention outcomes over time.
Due to a unique partnership between schools, nonprofits and the mayor’s office of Guaimaca (the mayor happens to be a former educator and physician), the team has implemented new teacher trainings, partnerships with parents, new school construction and youth educational outcomes tracking.
I also learned about an effort across the country that is aimed at ensuring that all people have access to clean water - Para Todos Por Siempre (For All For Always) - an alliance that brings together 10 major NGOs and community organizations to implement access to clean water and sanitation throughout the country of Honduras.
These are just a few glimpses of the great work being done in the country to build capacity and partnerships, as well as create sustainable efforts.
Anderson summed it up best in his opening address in which is he recalled a time when he became very tired on a long walk. He came upon a few local workers who were heading in the same direction so he joined them on their walk toward town. At one point, in the heat of the sun, he said, “Let’s take a break.” One of the workers replied, "To rest while there's sun, I'd better keep walking." Anderson was inspired by their determination and perseverance even when things became difficult. He wrote a song, Keep Walking, to share that inspiration with others. In the stories of collective impact in Honduras, there are many leaders and volunteers who are continuing down the inspiring path toward improved health, education, safety and an improved environment for the country of Honduras. Let’s keep walking.