Making Progress at Jambi Huasi

Alberto Servín


February 22, 2011

From one of previous blogs, I mentioned that I asked for and got the approval from my supervisor at the medical clinic to craft an outreach program. We were lacking customers so I thought of ways of letting folks know about our services. So far, I’ve made progress in my apprenticeship project in the last couple of weeks, as Jambi Huasi and I worked pretty hard to get the word out.

We’ve visited two indigenous communities and gave a promotional event in Otavalo (the main city in the area) as well. Along the way, I’ve come to realize that the other parts of my project will be impossible to do, like doing the school visits. At this point, I’m focusing primarily on trips to surrounding indigenous communities and promoting Jambi Huasi in neighboring towns and cities. All of this is much more time consuming than I had originally thought – especially from what I learned in trying to get the project started and engaging broad support from the team.

When I presented my ideas to my supervisors (the director and the administrator at Jambi Huasi) for the first time, they told me that they liked the ideas and thought they were great. But then nothing happened for a couple of weeks. So I tried attempting some tasks on my own. But that wasn’t possible because I realized that I could do very little without my supervisors’ support. For example, I would have to contact municipal offices for permission to carry out promotional activities in their towns or cities. So it would seem strange for me to just randomly walk into a governmental building and ask to do all this without having a legitimate backing from my organization.

At this point, I knew that I had to find a better way to engage my supervisors.

When I talked to them the second time, I asked them how they would like to get this project done. They threw in several ideas and seemed to show a lot more interest than before. After this conversation, things started to get going. Perhaps it was because I made it more of a group project instead of an individual one. It makes sense, because if I were in their place, I wouldn’t want some inexperienced foreigner telling me how to do my job.

So even though I am now in the back seat of this project, I think we are getting a better outcome. I now know how to get things done with the local knowledge that Jambi Hausi has. For example, my administrator knows where to make multiple copies of pamphlets and fliers at cheap prices, and has connections at the municipal offices about getting our promotional events easily approved. I realized I am involved in a much more sustainable outreach model, because if I were leading it, there would be no successor to continue it when I leave. Now, I have hope that Jambi Huasi will sustain this project after my departure, because they are invested in it.

And with all this progress, I’ve learned a lot about having patience, too.  Back home in the US, there’s a lot of pressure to get things done as soon as possible. Here in Ecuador tasks get done at a more leisurely rate. For me, it’s a nice change of air because the group and I still get things done without ever feeling an unnecessary pressure on us. With consensus and acknowledgement established, we each do our part, feel a group sense of accomplishment and make the organization feel more effective and good about itself.

With a set plan in hand we are doing well. In fact, we have another community visit scheduled this week and are planning a huge promotional event next month for introducing a new service at Jambi Huasi. So things are good now, there’s enough work to keep me busy, but not feel overwhelmed. I can’t wait for the upcoming events, and when they do, I look forward to telling you all about them!

Alberto Servín