We all have something to learn

Partnerships marked by mutuality and respect build relationships where both the U.S. and international partners benefit and take away relevant lessons. True cultural competence is necessary for a two-way learning process in any development activity. 

Are impact measures evaluated or are only inputs and/or outputs being measured?

  • The amount of money donated or the number of patients seen is less important than the impact the interventions are meant to have.

Are long-term measures established or are only short-term measures assessed?

  • When an x-ray machine is given to a facility, an attempt to assess its actual usage and its impact on the health of the community should be made a full year after the donation.

Is there a fear by the international partner that feedback perceived as negative could result in the loss of the partnership and the related funding, goods and/or services?

  • An international partner may claim everything went well rather than provide negative feedback during a formal evaluation and risk alienating the U.S. partner.

Is there fear by the U.S. partner that robust evaluations create a risk that some activity might be lost or ended?

  • If a group has been doing the same work for 10 years, it may be easier to continue the work than to assess it formally and risk finding out community health has not be improved over that time.

With whom, what and how do we communicate about the outreach program?

  • If the interaction is self-formational in nature, the language used in a press release should reflect this reality rather than the number of patients served or pounds of materials donated. All volunteers should be asked to consider the same emphasis for individual communications.

With whom and how do we communicate our lessons learned?

  • Even though it may not be in a press release, we should have a way of honestly sharing the strengths and weaknesses of the program with other entities within or connected to the hospital/health system.

In future planning, what needs to change in the way that we proceed?

  • How we promote the activity, our partnership agreement, the training of volunteers or the metrics used may need to be modified based on the experience and outcomes.