Convoy of Hope: Building Sustainable Lives Through Community Development

Great things ... Great love.:

When I first heard what Convoy of Hope wanted all of us in the group to put fresh eyes into helping them draw up a plan for sustainability of their feeding, and women’s empowerment programs, I had a nightmare flashback to one such plan Samaritan’s Purse had done a few years ago with a church group. Yet here I was again staring at Daudi (program director of Convoy of Hope) and trying to quell my panic (introvert panic) and keeping from running back to the airport. What I didn’t know at the time was Convoy of Hope would embody the principles of a book read in class about community development.

Demonstration garden at Convoy of Hope Tanzania Headquarters

Throughout this trip, I learned how Convoy of Hope operates, and this insight stuck with me that I never encountered with Samaritan’s Purse. Convoy of Hope enters into partnerships in the community with a goal of eventually leaving them to self-sustain. They come into situations providing relief freely through programs for feeding, agricultural education, girls and women’s programs. For a short period of time they give unsustainable, then offer education, training, assistance in building income for women and establishing groups for community support. When their partners reach a point where they can sustain themselves, Convoy steps out of the situation. Exactly the approach in Toxic Charity in transitioning from relief to development. “First stop relief, second stop rehabilitation, and third stop development. From witnessing Convoy at work over the week, I could see Convoy has mastered the art of community development and it is seen in many of the communities around Tanzania. True community development in a nutshell.

Juice and worming meds for students in Feed One program

Lipton writes the first goal is to alleviate suffering, followed by increasing the capacity for community and finally long-term improvement of the standard of living within the community (p138). A lot of the discussion during the week centered around the last stop of long-term improvement of the community and what are the assets in the community needing to be taped to reach this goal of sustainability.

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Discussing our observations with Convoy of Hope. Photo credit: Ben Tucakovic

Since I did not run for the airport but stayed to do my best, I started seeing every situation with fresh eyes in community development. As we all gathered around a table in the hotel conference room, we all came up with assets needing to be tapped by Convoy of Hope. Employment opportunities for adult disabled people in the school, water runoff from the hand washing stations being diverted to the gardens at the school, kitchen ventilation for all the smoke the fires put out, and develop land around the school for income base businesses. Each of these assets embodies what Toxic Charity states “no matter how desuetude the situation maybe, [there is] enormous untapped capacity within the community” we as helpers have the capacity to find, be inspired by it, build upon it and utilize it” (p 191). Daudi and the whole Convoy of Hope team affirm this again and again when interacting with communities.