Collaboration over Competition

Competition has defined the American Dream, but the “Dream” has fallen short over and over and turned into nightmares. Achievement is lauded, but success is being redefined.

The non-profit world has long been riddled with competition and has every man/woman/organization fighting over donor dollars. “What if?” These two words might just be my most favorite in the English dictionary, because they represent so much possibility and adventure. What if we chose collaboration over competition?

In 2009, I was invited to join a Vision Trip to Ethiopia hosted by Children’s HopeChest. It was one of those life-defining moments, where I felt in my gut that I had to go. All the circumstances around this trip were distractions and all I knew was what I knew. I asked my brother to join me on this trip…and literally, the rest is history.

It was on this trip, driving through the Great Rift Valley, that I heard a voice like none other before that asked me to “ask for the nation of Ethiopia ”. I asked. This nation became my second home, and remains the passion of my heart and my family’s soul.

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Partnership, in my world, was something to be distrusted. It had been disproved over and over. Due to this deep calling, we entered into the world of locking arms, but with much trepidation. We (personally, as a family) took on the HopeChest model of “Community to Community” and partnered with a CarePoint in Ethiopia. It was not an easy journey. We got our CarePoint’s child sponsorship up to more than half of the kids having an individual sponsor back here in the United States…and for the sake of time, I’ll just say that after over a year, we had to give up this passion of being the U.S. community leaders for this CarePoint and still the amazing staff of HopeChest stood by us. HopeChest became a part of our own family as we walked through some of our hardest and darkest days personally and as a partner organization. We became the “unicorn” of partnership with Children’s HopeChest. They didn’t falter through so much change in our org and theirs as both organizations were growing, changing and developing. The integrity, grit, passion, and holistic vision to affect long-lasting change to empower communities in Ethiopia inspired us to continue our partnership journey.

Today, 6 years later, they remain our strongest partner around the world and this month, we had a Creative Team in Uganda to showcase the local leadership, projects, and CarePoints that are leading the way in the Development world.

Survive. Thrive. Succeed.

The servant leadership and many questions of my friend, Joseph, has been an example to us. This man and his wife model the life of Jesus as they love and live with people on the margins while leading the way for a brighter further for Uganda.

Jesus challenged the religious order of His day. He intentionally surrounded Himself with those rejected by society - lepers, prostitutes, the mentally ill, the physically ill, those of other races, the lowest working class, the broken, children. All were welcome. Uganda is one of very few nations on earth that have learned from their own history that open borders mean sacrifice for their neighbors.

It has taken years for us to learn to trust collaboration over competition. Collaboration lends itself to each other’s strengths. Collaboration is about mutuality. We need each other. And, more than dollars, we are not ashamed to acknowledge our need for “us”. We are beyond grateful to Children’s HopeChest for trusting us enough to go deeper and make more of a lasting impact together.

Alone, we go fast. Together, we go far

Caleb David