After 2 years of planning, a new HtH initiative, Communities of Holistic Impact (CoHI), launched at our Santa Elena campus this February. Three communities are joining us on this new adventure - Las Lomitas, Caliche, and Lomas del Aguila. CoHI is a long-term initiative designed primarily to empower community leadership to be highly-effective agents of change in their own community. It is a unique and exciting program that draws on the past six years of collective development experience. Together with our coworkers on both sides of the border, we have developed a comprehensive way to qualify and measure the success of this program.
So far, we have worked through three basic training sessions with the communities.
What is a community? / What is a healthy leader?
The Holistic Being and Community
Each of the three communities, their leaders and local government officials, signed agreements with HTH to invest the effort necessary effort and resources from their communities in order to grow. If this program is successful, we will see these communities move through the four phases of development in the next 10 years - albeit at different paces and with different results. Right now, we are starting with the Hatching phase, learning to think differently and together as we pop heads out of our shells.
One part of the CoHI Initiative are community activities and challenges. The first activity for each community to prepare and organize a community lunch - using only local funds and resources.
Each community approached it in their own way... Lomas del Aguila was truly remarkable. With more than 400 people fed and food to spare, this small mountain town organized a remarkable feat - a first time for their community! They left the event animated and excited to take on increasingly bigger challenges. The event helped them prove to themselves that they are capable of tackling what lies ahead for their small town.
Las Lomitas initially failed to organize a successful event, but took the initiative to try again in late April - determined to learn to work together despite divisions that exist in the community. The second event was pulled off successfully, with more than 150 eating from the community. The event led to a very honest discussion amongst community leaders about how the greatest risk facing the town's development is not lack of resources, but lack of unity and organization.
Caliche truly amazed us as well. Town leaders went from house to house collecting local resources - two pounds of rice here, a kilo shortening there. Some gave chickens, some gave tamarinds for juice, in total 43 people provided something so that together more than 150 people could enjoy the meal that followed. We were so proud to celebrate their accomplishment with them.
Community Development Commission
At each community lunch, we also worked with each community within the program to elect a "Community Development Commission" made up of nine representatives from the local community council, water council, school council and churches. We used the exercise as an opportunity to model transparent democratic process through a secret ballot vote. We will be working closely with each commission on a number of exercises over the coming years - starting in April with a community mapping exercise.