In 2017, Churches of Christ Overseas Aid (COCOA) partners from around the world gathered for two weeks of learning and fellowship in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2021 it was time to do this again, but COVID restrictions meant we could not travel and meet.
It is crucial for us to update our understanding of good development practice and learn from one another. So, we wondered, could we achieve the same goals through an online workshop? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’!
On 20 April, 13 partners (from Bangladesh, Thailand, Zimbabwe and South Sudan) met online with the COCOA team for a short pilot workshop. It was wonderful to see everyone meeting and renewing friendships.
COCOA Director, Colin Scott, said “We would really love to visit all of you, but we haven’t been able to for a year, and we are not sure when we will be able to in the future.” He spoke about monitoring projects, reviews, and evaluations in a COVID world.
We spent some time thinking about key safeguarding issues. We identified Child Protection and Sexual Misconduct risks in our work, and our partners emphasised the need for everyone to work to a known code of conduct.
Some partners dropped in and out because of bandwidth problems. We had delays in sound and other technical problems.
We learned what things work well and what things certainly don’t. Our partners were patient and gracious – they’re used to things not always going to plan – and they were keen to meet again.
We expect to run a series of online workshops in the second half of 2021.
COCOA Partner Education Officer