Ready for the Next Dance

Our second annual Partner Summit wrapped up today in Nairobi.

Throughout the week, we focused on ways to be adaptable in response to the ever-changing environments of dynamic organizations. Our theme was an African proverb: When the music changes so does the dance.

In staying with this theme, each of our partners presented Wednesday on specific areas of their work that have required them to develop creative strategies and responses. They shared the lessons they’ve learned through those experiences, and offered recommendations that our other partners can take into consideration.

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Thursday and Friday were packed full of technical workshops to strengthen our partners’ organizations. Guest speakers joined us on Thursday to discuss succession planning, how to use social media to engage with supporters while also reaching a broader audience, and how to develop organization-wide monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans, while Aaron Sands, our director of operations, led a session on organizational transparency.

Barak Bruerd, our program and innovation director, gave an overview of water quality monitoring before introducing and giving a demonstration on Aquagenx water tests. And Nadia Kist, our technical director, gave an update on the changing context around HIV/AIDS programming and how global strategy can be harnessed to end AIDS at the community level.

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Finally, the Partner Summit wrapped up with storytelling presentations. Our partners paired up to interview one another, then using the storytelling framework Barak presented earlier in the week, they told each other’s stories. Not only are our partners incredible storytellers, each has a powerful and inspiring story that has brought them into this work and motivates them.

Working with communities to address the HIV/AIDS and water crises is complex, and there are no easy solutions. Our partners have no choice but to be flexible and focus the now. We hope that through sharing lessons learned from both failures and successes, providing technical tools to strengthen their organizations, and creating a network of resources each partner has gained tools that will help them as they continue to adapt to the circumstances of their particular contexts. And most of all, we hope they will return home feeling encouraged and energized in the heroic work they are doing.