People often ask how Yobel forms their global relationships. No one gets the same answer twice. Every story is different because every relationship is different.
For example, this past April Yobel board members and staff made a scouting trip to Costa Rica. We went knowing that it was time we met in person the lovely people we had been connected with over the past year and a half via mutual friend.
As any international traveller can tell you, it's important to have a "plan" before galavanting across borders and time zones.
Our itinerary dictated that we would arrive in San Jose:
- Meet up with our hosts from Food for the Hungry
- Travel to Sarchi and visit the woodworking shop where our cutting boards are produced
- Visit the men's rehabilitation center nearby
- Participate in community clean-up projects
- Head to the beach
- Head home
Things went right on schedule at first. We had an incredible time getting to know our beloved hosts, Kristina and Luis Diego Sanchez (and their adorable kiddos). We were able to connect well with Food for the Hungry staff, learn about their heart to see both physical and spiritual hunger addressed in their nation and turn trash into treasure with neighborhood children as part of a local beautification project.
Next we spent an afternoon in the woodworking facility in Sarchi and met the delightful men that had been given the opportunity to earn a fair wage as a result of the cutting board project's success. Our team had a blast making their own recycled wooden cutting boards as well as touring the wood shop and interacting with the men as they worked.
Later that day we travelled to the substance abuse program which was located on a beautiful sustainable farm. As we sipped cups of incredibly strong cafe, we got to hear more about where these men were coming from, their life pursuing freedom from addiction, along with their daily activities. It became quickly clear to us that although the program was a phenomenal one, it did not allow for a business training aspect. There simply wasn't the need or desire for what Yobel could offer within their 3 month recovery structure. And so we thanked the men for their hospitality and made our way home, grateful to have seen in person that our resources could be better utilized elsewhere.
That same evening, we heard from our host Kristina, about a safe house initiative on the opposite side of the country seeking to offer respite and healing to teenage girls being exploited by migrant workers and tourists in the area.
We felt very moved in our spirits to meet the couple running the program and determine if this would be a place of future partnership for Yobel but we were unable to reach them try as we might. So we rented a bus and 12 of us travelled 5 hours to the Pacific Coast without so much as a phone number or address.
We arrived in the town the safe house was supposedly located and went to the local police station to inquire as to its whereabouts.
The police informed us that no such place existed.
Kristina, ever the gifted ambassador, pressed a bit further and was able to show an email she had received verifying it's presence and her connection. At that point the police relented and admitted that there was a home for girls but that it was undercover. They put us in touch with the town Mayor and he was able to help us locate Chris and Penny.
Chris and Penny had 3 other appointments that day and were in the midst of renovations but agreed to see us because we had come so far. We spent 45 minutes in their living room hearing about the women they were serving, their work with Child Protective Services, and their programming. It was immediately apparent in our hearts that we had made the right decision to come.
Our scavenger hunt and willingness to act in faith paid off.
There is now the opportunity to partner in helping these girls learn job skills as a part of their longterm healing and eventual re-entry to their community as empowered women of dignity. We look forward to seeing how this relationship will progress.
Back in San Jose we were connected with another staff member of Food for the Hungry, Dona Isabella, whom we have deemed the Mother Teresa of San Jose.
This spunky Tica is single-handedly transforming the lives of women in her neighborhood through Jesus' love. We spent 2 coffee hours with her and every few minutes a lady would pop her head in the door and ask for advice, inquire as to the next women's gathering, or bring in a small child in need of care. It was truly amazing to watch the way this woman invests in the lives of others so continuously. And did I mention she has begun a tailoring initiative? You can look forward to some designer purses and accessories coming from this community in time for autumn!
So in answer to your question, this is how we develop partnerships around the globe. It is a combination of networking, relationships, and most importantly, a leading of the Spirit. But like many things worth pursuing, it requires the willingness to risk, to learn from our mistakes, and to be willing to lose the plan if need be.