A week ago while I was in California I had the opportunity to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and he asked me a question that is so basic to everything I’m doing, so vital yet a bit obscure.
So what IS a global advocate? He asked.
I paused, the gears slowly clicking into place with the addition of the caffeine I held so lovingly in my hands. Global. Advocate.
Oh right, this title is not very self-explanatory within itself, is it?
So let’s break this down. According to the dictionary, if you advocate something in the verb-al form of the word, you are publicly recommending or supporting something. But this usage of the word looks more noun-like, so it makes me a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy (thank you Google!). With the ‘global’ qualifier, the words come together to imply a person who publicly supports something of or related to the whole world.
I’m the world’s defender!
Hmm… that sounds a bit hefty. I am not sure I am ready for all that responsibility.
How about this: I am a conduit of change.
That sounds more like it. That’s actually how Nyla put it during our training. Global Advocates advance Mama Hope‘s mission and make a meaningful impact on thousands of lives. Even better, through us Advocates, hundreds of our family members, friends and even acquaintances have the opportunity to make an impact on thousands of lives.
The program itself is pretty intensive and is set up as a professional job training corps. Personally, I call it an apprenticeship. I have also heard it referred to as a fellowship. I have to admit I like the ring of that. A fellowship! Reminds me of both academia and Lord of the Rings. Excellent.
Anyway, the fellowship is a nine month program. The first three months we fundraise for our project and go through an intensive curriculum on project development, management and international development. The second three months are spent on the ground in the community, functionally becoming a project manager. The last three months are back at home, mentoring a new advocate, participating in professional development and evaluation.
The projects and countries vary from Advocate to Advocate. One woman, Juliette, will be in Ghana working on an orphanage while Martina and Stephanie will be in Tanzania, one working on expanding the school with the other working on the boarding house. Even the Advocate at my site, Katrina, will be partnering with the same organization but on a completely different project. And I, I will be working on the expansion of the water project in Kisumu.
The five of us are going to be the conduits of change for tens of thousands of lives. And through us, thousands of people in our home countries will have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the lives of tens of thousands of people.
That is what a Global Advocate does.