Tearfund’s ministry is about creating positive impacts in people’s lives but this would not be possible without the generous support of Kiwis.  Your donation is not just about how much money gets to where it is needed, but the level of positive change it creates.  I want to present impact through the lens of stewardship, and asking the question: “so what?”

 At Tearfund, being a good steward means having three-way accountability:
  • To the people and communities we serve – ensuring we deliver the support that meets their needs and goals.
  • To our supporters – demonstrating that the resources we are entrusted with have been used wisely and achieved positive results.
  • To our peers and partners – being accountable to professional standards that ensure we deliver high-quality work with integrity.
  
 Winston Churchill once said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”. Being a good steward compels Tearfund to look at the impact our work has on the people we seek to serve—it asks the “so what?” question. Let me share an example.
  
 After the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal in 2015, I was involved in a project that rebuilt 1,312 homes, after over 600,000 homes, 5,000 schools and 1,000 clinics and hospitals were severely damaged or destroyed. The project focused on “building back better”—incorporating earthquake-resilient construction features that would keep families safe. It also made sure that houses had adequate ventilation for good indoor air quality, and that families had access to a safe and hygienic toilet. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the project is that homeowners were trained and built their own homes, with neighbours helping neighbours.  In the process, they learnt new skills.

After-the-7-8-earthquake-in-Nepal,-I-was-involved-in-a-project-that-rebuilt-1,312-homes-(1).jpg
After the 7.8 earthquake in Nepal, I was involved in a project that rebuilt 1,312 homes.
   
Understanding the impact of this project meant moving beyond counting the number of families with new homes to uncovering a much richer story of what process and the outcome meant for the people involved.
  • Waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea reduced dramatically as families had toilet facilities and were aware of hygiene measures. The municipality was declared free from open defecation.
  • Respiratory illnesses improved, as houses had better ventilation from moisture and cooking smoke was vented outside.
  • Children were aware of how to stay safe when an earthquake strikes
  • Community relationships strengthened as people worked together to rebuild and divisions between different castes reduced.
  • Women, elderly people and those with disabilities were active participants in the rebuilding process and society began to recognise their abilities and contribution more.
  • Most people opened a bank account for the first time in their life.
  • Employment opportunities were created for young people who would have otherwise migrated abroad for low-skilled employment. 
 By asking “so what?” we get a much more rich view of the impact that our projects have on the lives of the people we seek to serve. We can learn from the intended or unintended changes that our projects bring and gain insights about how we might be able to address problems in new ways, increase positive impact, or address areas that did not go well. Ultimately, the biggest mistake we can make is to not pay enough attention to learning from the work we are doing.

The-project-focused-on-building-back-better-which-meant-incorporating-earthquake-resilient-construction-features-that-would-keep-families-safe.jpg
The project focused on building back better - which meant incorporating earthquake-resilient construction features that would keep families safe.
  
To understand the impact of our work, we ask people. We interview the teacher, religious leader, chief, nurse or government officer. We find out through focus groups with communities, surveys of households, and informal discussions. We welcome and address feedback and complaints. We observe, monitor and compare areas where we are working with other areas. We seek out the voices of the vulnerable and marginalised that are always there but may not always be heard. We take heed of the ideas and solutions coming from the people we seek to serve and then back them to make the changes they seek for their communities.
  
We must move beyond describing the work we do, to answer the bigger question—“so what difference does this make in the lives of those we serve?”

       

Related posts

Why you should support a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand

Why you should support a Modern Slavery Act in New Zealand

Tuesday, 17 May 2022 — Morgan Theakston

The New Zealand Government has proposed legislation to address modern slavery and worker exploitation in New Zealand and internationally. But what does this mean, what is proposed and how can you help? 

Read more

Why does New Zealand need a Modern Slavery Act?  

Why does New Zealand need a Modern Slavery Act?  

Wednesday, 20 April 2022 — Morgan Theakston

You may be wondering if modern slavery happens in New Zealand supply chains or just overseas. Will a Modern Slavery Act be a burden on businesses? Can legislation truly create change? We unpack these questions in this blog.
 

Read more

Ukraine Crisis: The view from Poland

Ukraine Crisis: The view from Poland

Thursday, 17 March 2022 — Medair

As millions of Ukrainian refugees flee to safety, Tearfund’s partner in Poland shares their heartbreaking stories and helps them adjust to life on the other side of the border. 
 

Read more

Three beautiful short stories of the church in action during Covid-19

Three beautiful short stories of the church in action during Covid-19

Tuesday, 08 February 2022 — Compassion International

From Colombia to Educador to Uganda, here are three short stories from our Compassion churches we hope will encourage you!

Read more

Former Kiwi cop combatting Thailand

Former Kiwi cop combatting Thailand's dark underworld

Thursday, 20 January 2022 — Grace Ellis

Matthew Valentine spent 14-years of his life as a detective with the New Zealand Police. Little did he know his passion for fighting crime would take him to the streets of Thailand working for an organisation fighting human trafficking.
 

Read more

Why periods are no longer a red light

Why periods are no longer a red light

Monday, 11 October 2021 — Compassion International

Today is International Day of the Girl Child where we recognise the rights and unique challenges girls face globally. One of the many challenges they face is period poverty. Millions of girls in developing countries experience shame, confusion and even stigma and discrimination when they get their period. The good news is in Compassion centres around the world, girls are finding education, protection, empowerment, safe bathrooms and period supplies.

 

Read more

Show more