One of the most important things organizations like ours have to do is to review our own work – critically, dispassionately and objectively. We have to analyze what we are doing, ask ourselves hard questions, challenge our own assumptions and figure out how we can do better.
Because what we are doing matters. It makes a difference to children’s lives, to their futures. We have to get it right.
But it’s hard to be objective when you are looking at your own performance. And as much as we want to be honest, we are all pretty good at overlooking our own mistakes and our own shortcomings.
That’s why we call in the experts.
Koyeli Sengupta – a developmental pediatrician from Ummeed Child Development Centre in Mumbai – and Ved Arya, a development professional and the founder of Srijan in New Delhi – came this week to review our followup program for children we’ve assessed at Gubbara.
The team worked hard to pull together data from months of outreach, parent meetings, ASHA trainings and community mobilization.
Everything was laid out – the successes, the failures, the gaps. We had agreed the day before that the most important thing to share was where we had not succeeded. There was no point in sitting together as a Mutual Admiration Society. This exercise would only be useful if we could use it to improve what we were doing.
So we spoke honestly about the number of new referrals we had projected (200) vs the number we had gotten (38) and we speculated about the reasons for the shortfall: Had we not stressed the urgency enough? Were the health workers not clear about developmental milestones? Did we need to revisit our training? Should there be a simple tool which health workers could use when meeting parents?
Then we went out into the field. We took our reviewers to the Community Health Centres where our followup programs are based so they could see for themselves what the ground reality looks like.
They met parents;
They played with children.
And slowly, slowly, as the stories emerged and the trust kept building they were able to put together an idea of the vision for change we are working from and to help us leapfrog over the hurdles which were keeping us from achieving it.
It’s a delicate balance, this business of reviewing – and it requires humility and skill in equal measure.
We feel so fortunate that we have experts with such vast experience and such deep compassion; that we have found people who care so much about what we are doing and who are so eager to help us shine.
It doesn’t get much better than this.
And by the way? The followup team’s report card? FULL MARKS.