Empowering local partners
The classical and almost standard story in sub-Saharan Africa is one of projects starting with high hopes and expectations, continuing well for sometime, while their initiators and their sponsors are still around, providing funds and other support, and then dying out or barely surviving, after they’ve left. Hence the need to think sustainability from the very start, and sustainability in its broadest sense, i.e., financial, technical, organisational, administrative and managerial sustainability. Behind each one of these key activities are people, who need to trained or retrained, coached and mentored, and assessed regularly to see how much progress they're making towards self governance and taking ownership of what will ultimately become "their project".
At the Eye institute, plans are already in place on how to empower our staff and further build their skills and competencies. Key component of these plans include:
Giving the opportunity to every senior member of our staff to go abroad for additional training and exposure, in their respective areas of expertise
Running a “Vision Building” exercise for our Institute staff (ophthalmologists, ophthalmic nurses and other support staff, admin personnel,heads of departments), to help everyone be on the same page and thereby help broaden the ownership of this unique project. The first one has already taken place. Others will follow at regular intervals.
In collaboration with other partners (ORBIS, CBM, ICO), develop pools of trainers and experts, who will be part of the Institute’s International Faculty, and who will be visiting the Institute on a regular basis, primarily for training, coaching and mentoring purposes. To the senior management of the Institute, that faculty will also serve as an independent advisory group on what further actions need to be taken.
Using a staff appraisal system that gives each member of staff a real opportunity to express their future training and professional development needs.
Beside the Eye Institute, we also see the need as an organisation, to empower those groups which by virtue of their mandate or portfolio, must work closely with the Eye Institute: associations for the blind, blind school, diabetes support groups, Low Vision groups or associations, etc. Preliminary contacts have taken already, to better define the contours of such collaboration.