Once a year CLF has a marathon of a meeting. Two days at the start of the year are dedicated to coming together to set individual and foundation wide goals. Last week we did just that. Yes, it is long and, at times, tedious, but having measurable goals and the promise of provided lunch and snacks seems to get us through. Where do we see the foundation going in the future? What hopes and dreams do the project leaders have for the coming year?
We have a history of asking these questions of ourselves and of the people we work alongside. You can even find it in our values statement:
We intentionally learn from and work together with local leaders as we bring shared vision and passion into the communities and cultures we work in.
The sentiment has been formalized into a core value, but it has been at the heart of what we do since our inception. Co-founder and therapist, Amy Hupe, speaks to how the principal was an organic outworking of the relationships that were had at the time.
There are so many things that I can write about why aligning with local leaders is what we did as we founded CLF. It’s almost like in retrospect I could pick this or that and say we had some master plan, but honestly, I think our alignment with local leaders felt obvious to me at the time. It is only with the vantage point of time that we can sort of name it as an asset, a thing we do, a program focal point. In the early ‘no-program-yet, grassroots, sitting-on-the-sidewalk, sitting-in-the-safe-house, sitting-in-relationship’ days, it seemed the most obvious thing. It was obvious that these local people, people with lived experience, people who are face to face impacted with the issues-without a plane ticket home to some other reality-are the only people who can lead. My job was to promote, align with and elevate their voice. Not shape it. Not change it. Not put my voice in their mouths (these are important distinctions), but to fan the flame, the voice, that was already there in their hearts and lend my hands to birthing that vision. We use words like agency and buy-in, these were important too. It felt like the only action that would work was an authentic action. People can’t live out other people’s dreams. People will fight for their dreams. And so, for something to be sustainable, it would have to be locally lived, locally dreamed, locally birthed.
Years later, we still strive to “promote, align, and elevate their vocie[s]”. Our goals for the present and future are shaped by our local team. We are led by the dreams put forward by staff in the annual vision and goal setting meeting:
Mint aims to increase her visits to women in the redlight district and increase her financial partners for the Outreach program in 2020.
Yadfon dreams of opening up a CLF office in Chiang Mai and hiring a local teammate to help distribute scholarships and mentor students and families.
Mina wants to increase home delivery of her products, put her items in new stores, and have more working hours available to women who need employment.
The group as a whole wonder if it’s possible to open a shop of our own, what it looks like to raise more funds within Thailand, and how to improve communication amongst the team.
Dreams. Goals. Visions. What if’s...
Let us “fan the flame, the voice, that is already there in their hearts, and lend [our] hands to birthing that vision.