This year, we continue to reflect on the importance of Lamp for Haiti’s tagline: Healthcare, Partnership, Community. Last month we offered a perspective on Lamp’s delivery of Healthcare, viewed through the lens of Martin Luther King’s lasting impact on our world.
One striking lesson the pandemic has taught us is that going it alone leads to more of the same – going it alone. In other words, connections make us stronger. Connections help as confidante and counselor when we come to life’s crossroads. Connections encourage us to model right behavior, and follow the straight path as we watch others who, in turn, are often looking to us for the same.
Bill Withers’ classic song has resonated profoundly for so many not just because of its lyrical melody, but because of the wisdom of its lyrics – “… You just call on me brother when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on.”
This truism applies not just to us as individuals navigating our own personal journeys, but to organizations, and to nonprofits in particular. Given our limited resources, and overall emphasis on keeping a low reserve so that funds raised are spent wisely in a mission oriented manner, we cannot afford to make mistakes. Having a brother, as Withers suggests, allows us to share learned experiences, and information, and sometimes resources.
One such brother, or partner, for Lamp has been St. Luke Foundation for Haiti (www.stlukehaiti.org), a great organization that works to provide healthcare and community support in the capital of Port-au-Prince as well as in the South of Haiti. They save lives not just by providing proper medication and great medical care, but also by providing education, job training, employment, and hands on, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-pantlegs-and-wade-in-the-waters-to-get-the-job-done approach to problem solving.
Partnerships are relationships, and they work best when both parties experience mutual growth. Again, Withers is helpful in singing the truism “I just might have a problem that you’ll understand, we all need somebody to lean on.” For example, recently we spoke to a donor who wanted to provide assistance in the wake of the most recent earthquake in the South of Haiti. We told that donor that while we were not explicitly working in the South, we would help to find a reputable partner in Haiti who was already working there, and we then connected St. Luke Haiti with that U.S. donor.
In turn, St Luke has been for us like a trusted older sibling, assisting us in concrete ways like the implementation of our digital x-ray system. They trained our radiographer, Denold, a local resident of Cité Soleil; today he is a skilled x-ray technician, still working at Lamp. They have advised us on topics like how best to procure pediatric drugs in Haiti, or manage our medical waste, or grow our solar power system.
Partnering with other like-minded organizations has been a key part of Lamp’s success, just as partnering with others is for most individuals. Partnering requires the right combination of leadership and humility. Illegitimate organizations tend not to partner, because they don’t want others to scrutinize their processes. On the other hand strong organizations actively look for ways to integrate into a shared mission, not duplicating services but instead complementing, filling in gaps and furthering the work.
We are proud of our emphasis on seeking out and working with great partners like St. Luke Haiti, and you, our Lamp for Haiti family. Together we comprise a part of a greater world community. It’s a community that shares an emphasis on working with and for local Haitian residents, understanding that in doing so we also strengthen ourselves. It’s a community that sings out “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on… For it won’t be long, till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”