Where Systems and Data Meet Blood:Water
It is truly amazing how much life can change in a year. For me, the past 12 months have been a whirlwind: I graduated from college, moved across the country, welcomed a son into my family, joined the Blood:Water team, and in recent weeks, traveled across the world in pursuit of an unexpected calling.
As I began my time at Eastern University several years ago, I was fascinated by its reputation as a hub of the Christian social justice movement. This initial interest directed me toward studying Economic Development in an attempt to learn how to enact effective and sustainable change in the lives of the poor.
In addition to the Development degree, I also started a family and took a job at a growing Internet marketing company. I was thrust into the world of systems and workflow management, and quickly developed the skills necessary to build, maintain, and analyze data structures. While it was certainly exciting to discover that I possessed a useful skillset, it seemed that these mere “work” skills had little to do with my “vocational direction” as I studied development theory and practice. As I walked across the stage last December with my new diploma in hand, it was unclear how these two pieces of my experience would intersect. That is, until I joined the Blood:Water team.
Fairly soon after I started with Blood:Water, I began working with the Africa Partnerships team on launching a digital data system for our partners. This new system will equip each partner with mobile devices linked to a central database app that would help to make their data collection and analysis more efficient. We received the funding to launch the program over the summer, and in September, Barak and I traveled to Zambia for a successful week-long training workshop and launch with our partner Seeds of Hope International.
To give a little perspective, Seeds of Hope, or SoHIP, installs and maintains biosand filters as a way to provide clean water to the communities they serve. Because of their great work, they currently have several thousand filters that they keep track of on a regular basis using paper forms. This means that they are using several thousand paper forms to gather information on their filters, one of the many exciting and sustainable solutions they offer. The introduction of a data system will radically boost their ability to do sustainable development in their local context.
In her book “Walking on Water,” Madeleine L'Engle includes a chapter called “Cosmos from Chaos.” It is her conviction that the truly Christian vocation is to be creative as God is creative — to bring about order, harmony, and beauty from chaos and disorder. Although she is speaking fundamentally about Christianity and the fine arts, this idea has helped me to reconcile my abilities and my desire for justice into a single, coherent vocation. I am incredibly blessed to be able to bring the skills and abilities God has given me to this movement, and I look forward to seeing our partners continue to do great work with a new set of tools at their disposal.