|Mahendra Lohani (fourth from right) with the Heifer staff who participated in last month’s co-mentoring workshop in Cambodia.|
by Mahendra Lohani, Vice President of Asia South Pacific Programs
Last month, I joined Shubh Mahato, country director of Heifer Nepal during his co-mentoring visit to Heifer Cambodia. Co-mentoring is an opportunity for our development experts from different countries to share best practices and learn from each other in a mutual, teacher-to-teacher dynamic. These meetings are always of immense benefit, and we used this occasion to organize an additional meeting at the country office in Phnom Penh to discus Heifer’s organizational priorities and plan to increase the size of our projects and help more families.
The Heifer Cambodia team reviewed their local context and formulated a concrete action plan with a clear timeline under each of Heifer’s three organizational goals: scale up program impact, grow and diversify revenue and support base, and strengthen core global operating systems. This action plan, which serves as the co-mentoring action plan for Cambodia Country Director Keo Keang for the next six months, is fully owned by the Heifer Cambodia team. We also discussed the new strategies with project participants and project partners in the field to have their input and action. It is exciting to note that the team is moving with high urgency to increase the project impact, speed up the Passing on the Gift® (POG) process, and improve cost efficiency.
Twelve of our Cambodia team members participated in the meeting, and the Cambodia staff were very motivated to learn and discuss the four key principles of scaling-up our projects: speed, impact, quality and cost efficiency. The Cambodia team came up with ideas of ways to accelerate the POG process and empower communities in the early stages of project development.
Following the two-day meeting, Shubh and I traveled to the field to visit a women’s literacy class and to visit the homes of some participants of the Women Empowerment and Environmental Protection project. The visit went very well. The impact of the project shows potential for growth, including POG group formation and women’s empowerment through literacy classes, education, networking and collaboration.
I returned from Cambodia full of optimism about our work there. Our project participants are empowered and very confident, which is my dream to see. The Heifer Cambodia team has done a great job, and I am very proud of them. But, even though we have done great work, we also realize that it is still small in terms of the poverty in Cambodia, where more than 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.