The way in which distrust can get in the way of our efforts to do good is illustrated in a humorous story that originated with Michelle Adler. It is a story about a stranger who went to a group of people to deliver a huge pot of gold as a gift. The stranger was met with distrust, bombarded with suspicious questions, and this special and potentially valuable gift was ultimately rejected by the hostile group of individuals. The questions flowed: Why was the stranger being so nice to them? Did he have permission to deliver the gold? They heard that he had already given gold to some other folks, so was this pot as large as the one that was given to the others? For real, they certainly did not need a second-rate pot of gold.
It is sad but true. Sometimes, really great programs and projects fail even before they get off the ground because there is suspicion and a lack of trust. The individuals involved just cannot find a way to get on with each other, let alone work together to have an impact. With this in mind, at Jalawelo, we are intentional about developing healthy working partnerships as we engage with others to bring hope, encouragement, and real opportunities to individuals who need a helping hand. We always try to remember that the quality of the interpersonal relationships among our team members and partners will ultimately impact the quality of the outcomes we achieve.
We can all relate to a being involved in a challenging situation that could have had a much more positive outcome if people had just got on better with each other. Sometimes, we can be so focused on the problems we want to address that we do not take the time to invest in developing the healthy relationships that are needed for our intervention efforts to be truly effective. We have found that our outcomes improve dramatically and we are most effective when we work together within the context of healthy interpersonal relationships.
Jalawelo’s Transformative Collaboration Framework is an important part of our Social Engagement Model. We are super intentional about not only incorporating the ideas and opinions of the people we want to help, but we are intentional about building genuine friendships as we work together, under God, to make a difference in people’s lives. And, to be honest, as we work to bring real change in challenging circumstances, we find that we are also changed in the process.
We understand that we all bring all of who we are to the table. We bring our strengths, our weaknesses, and our dreams. We embrace the experience of getting outside of ourselves and our comfort zone to experience discomfort about conditions that have nothing to do with us, to be open to new learning, and to embrace social empathy and the fight for social justice.