Noé RajerisonAssociate Director of Programs (USA)
Since we started our work in 2011, MiracleFeet has enrolled nearly 30,000 children in 27 countries in treatment at the clinics we sponsor. These numbers continue to expand every year. Have you ever wondered how we decide where and with whom to work?
MiracleFeet’s Francophone West Africa Program Manager Noé Rajerison has tremendous insight into the partner selection process and knows how valuable it is to ensure our work is sustainable. Noé took the time to explain the process in further detail.
How do potential partners learn about MiracleFeet?
There are two ways. The first is less common, which is that we are presented with an opportunity and are able to take it. For example, there was a program in one potential country that had reached out to GCI [Global Clubfoot Initiative], and GCI put them in contact with us. More common is that people already know us through different networks. For example, CBR – Community Based Rehabilitation Africa network – has regular conferences. We also attend the conference of the African Federation of Orthopedists Technicians (FATO). We network and meet relevant organizations and potential partners there.
People also find us through the website and social media.
What are the top three things that make a good partner?
We [MiracleFeet Programs Team] have developed a partner criteria checklist. The first thing on the list is that the partner is a registered NGO with the government of their country. They have to be an NGO with legal status. Second is that the organization has a good reputation and experience within the physical rehabilitation or disability communities. They need to be established. The third is experience in community outreach and advocacy, and working in the healthcare system with providers.
How long does the partner selection process typically take?
This varies from country to country. The shortest is usually six months, but it can take years. But six months is needed for the actual preparation and developing a Statement of Work, establishing a budget, and formalizing a partnership with a signed Memorandum of Understanding.
How do you build relationships with potential partners when you have limited face-to-face time (often 1-2 in-person visits) and primarily electronic communication? What do you do to build the mutual trust and respect needed for a successful partnership?
Fact-finding trips are very important. Before the visit, we are in touch on Skype, WhatsApp, email, and text. We get to know each other. The key is to keep communication positive and be transparent. We must let them know how we at MiracleFeet work, our approach and expectations, our requirements for reporting. Face-to-face visits help confirm what you have established so far and continue to build that relationship.
My approach is different in each country and culture. I try to understand the culture, and how people think and communicate. Are they more direct or diplomatic? How do they like to receive feedback?
What’s your favorite part of the process? What’s the most frustrating part?
The most challenging is working on the budget. It’s not fun to talk about money! In the end, though, both parties find common ground and agree.
My favorite part of the process is traveling! It’s fine to sit in the office and keep in touch that way, but when I travel I get to learn about partners’ everyday lives and their activities. I get to see patients and parents, and see firsthand how they treat the children at clinics. I learn about problems and how they overcome these difficulties. This is the exciting part to me.
Also, I can do things much more quickly in person than remotely. For example, building a Scope of Work agreement can take two days in person, but months when done electronically.
Many thanks to Noe for taking the time to explain this process. If you would like to know more about the impact our work has on patients around the world, you can read the patient stories on our blog.