Lambi Fund Newsletter
Transferring Knowledge One Workshop at a Time
By Ferry Pierre-Charles
Providing educational tools to the different sectors of Haitian society, including youth, adults and professionals, represents a formidable task in Haiti. This is why training and educational workshops are an integral component of the Lambi Fund of Haiti's work with grassroots organizations.
Lambi Fund offers workshops in project specific skills and basic organizational capacity building and management.
Some current Lambi Fund workshops include: project management, organizational capacity building, sustainable farming techniques, community-led reforestation, and modernized animal breeding, to name a few. Workshop participants gain skills that go beyond just the specific project at hand. Partners are also offered the tools needed to think critically about current social issues, how to share a vision of change, and implementing plans of action.
It is in the spirit of this transfer of knowledge and promotion of civic duty that Lambi Fund encourages partner organizations to hold annual workshops for their general members. These meetings can be forums for organizations to collectively decide and set the priorities and long-term plans for their communities.
Innovative Training Methods
Here, organizations that have received previous technical training from Lambi Fund and currently run their own community enterprises are employed to provide the training and transfer skills to new partner organizations.
For more than ten years, Lambi Fund has applied this strategy to mill projects where members of one organization facilitate workshops for members of another organization on the operation, maintenance and management of a grain mill. For example, OPG has facilitated workshops for the organizations OPTM and ACHVRO. These learning exchanges typically occur with organizations located in the same region.
The first organization to ever participate in a grain mill training with Lambi Fund had to travel nearly eight hours to the closest training center. Now, thanks to an increase in grain mills, members no longer have to travel such long distances. Most can even sleep at home. This reduces the costs of transportation, lodging and causes less disruptions to one's family life.
These workshops are usually held just as the project begins. Lambi Fund's first priority is to ensure that its partners are provided with the tools and techniques that will enable them to manage projects successfully.
Designing Effective Workshops
Workshops are designed to be inclusive and comprehensive. In the case of grain mills, this includes discussing grain production, commercialization, and the troubles tied to processing grain. Members also discuss ways to make the mill profitable, market the mill, bring in more clients and efficiently manage mill operations even when harvests are sparse.
We have found that this model is mutually beneficial. Both the trainers and trainees benefit because facilitators are challenged to adapt their curriculum to meet the specific needs of a new community. The facilitators' experience working as educators also strengthens their own understanding of the realities in which they live. Leading workshops also breeds experts on the subject matter, while helping them to understand and address the productive capacity and challenges of partner organizations.
Aside from a simple transfer of knowledge, these workshops create the space for two hardworking grassroots organizations to come together and connect on multiple levels. The facilitating organization has the opportunity to share the positive impacts of the project, along with what has worked and what has not.
Forming Lasting Partnerships
This creates stronger bonds of friendship and solidarity between the two organizations. The trainers, in a sense, become a model or source of reference for the recipient organization. Members can consult with one another regularly and ask for assistance when needed. This encourages a more autonomous progression of projects.
As a result, mills no longer sit idle, as had been the case in the past. When a motor breaks down or a spare part is needed, mill operators are able to quickly fix the problem thanks to the support of their partner organization which has most likely addressed and resolved similar issues in the past.
In short, these partner-to-partner and community-led workshops offer a plethora of benefits. Up-and-coming partner organizations are paired with "veteran" organizations who can in turn teach them the ropes, while rich and lasting relationships form across organizations, creating lasting opportunities for networking, guidance and shared best practices.