“Hope is like a magnificent wind; invisible to the eye, but with the force to move things far more visible.”
I tend to be more of an academic. I am less moved by the intangible “warm-and-fuzzy” things of this world, than I am data that provide supporting evidence to substantiate social change. I am not quite sure when this happened over the past decade while working in public health and international development, but I can certainly tell you how. It’s really the result of one word. One simple and small word that has puzzled the development world for decades – far longer than I have been a part of it all. One word that is challenging the way in which we do the work we do, and makes us justify at the end of the day if its all worth it. Impact.
As a public health professional whose later years have focused heavily on information quality and use to improve practice – I have bought into that conversation. Impact. What is the impact? How does an organization demonstrate that their technical approach, the resources they allocate, even their area of focus is relevant and effective unless they can demonstrate IMPACT. Hard numbers people: measurable, quantifiable numbers. Counts. Percents. For the past few years this certainly became a focal point of my contributions to SFH. Its not enough for an organization committed to operational integrity to tug on donor heart strings to make their next offering. No! We need to be able to articulate that what we do and how we work is effective in transforming the lives of the young people we serve. We are able to do that. We proudly can say in evaluating the impact of our scholarship program over the past 8 years we have reached more than 150 youth in Kenya (and a few in Tanzania as well), 80% of which are employed in a career track position of their choosing. Just pause a moment on the bolded words. Hard quantified measurable evidence, that speaks to income earning potential in the present and long term, as well as personal empowerment to be in a position to choose and execute a dream. Impact.
But what about hope? You see, when I started SFH, it was with the vision to restore hope. That oh-so-intangible-yet-somehow-tangible feeling that gives you everything you need. Its like the quote above says, ” “Hope is like a magnificent wind; invisible to the eye, but with the force to move things far more visible.” A force is the perfect word! It shifts, fuels, motivates, shapes and transforms ….it creates powerful change in lives and paths and futures. Even me, ten years into a career that is sinking deeper and deeper into the monitoring, evaluation and research of development work, somehow I want to hold on to hope.
Is there a science to hope? a way to measure its effect and how it impacts a life?