GMP Executive Officer John Lamerton, the COCOA team and many of our international Relief and Development partners met in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for the Partnering Together for Stronger Communities Conference.
The two-week conference, held in April, was significant for COCOA and GMP, as it brought our staff and partners together to learn from each other. Participants travelled from Bangladesh, India, Vanuatu, and South Sudan. Partners from Thailand helped with the preparation and hosting of the meetings. Unfortunately, our Zimbabwean partners could not travel, so they joined to say ‘hello’ at one point via Zoom.
Jan Bayliss, COCOA Partner Education Officer, helped facilitate the course. “We were so impressed with the effort participants made – they were engaged in every session even when jet-lagged and while working in their second, third or fourth language!” Jan said.
The course provides an opportunity for partners to work on sample project designs and develop project management and reporting skills. In addition, partners can gain a greater understanding of current relief and development practices. They also had opportunities to workshop case studies on partnerships and projects together in small groups.
All participants appreciated the opportunity to learn new skills and to deepen relationships. At the end of the two-week conference, they expressed increased confidence in tackling documents like Project Design and Progress Reports.
Paulino Malou from South Sudan reflected on his experience, saying, “When I arrived here for training in Thailand, I thought the training was only for theory – work kind of lectures – but to my surprise the training was holistic in many ways. Sharing new ideas, new knowledge, new culture, new food and new language. I have gained new skills and knowledge. Above all I have new friends across the Global Mission Partners.”
This was the first time our international partners met face to face with GMP's recently appointed Executive Officer, John Lamerton. “It’s been a wonderful time for me personally to connect with our leaders. I have seen how they are learning alongside and encouraging one another in being strong credible organisations serving in their respective contexts,” John said.
The Partnering Together for Stronger Communities Conference helps develop skills and strengthens relationships among GMP staff and international partners as well as between the partners themselves. The collaborative atmosphere allowed participants to share their knowledge and understandings. It was an enriching experience. We pray that it will pave the way for more efficient and effective development projects in the future.