Help2read strategy, mission and vision 2021
10 November, 2020
The last three years at help2read have been characterised by a roller-coaster of changes and adaptations to an environment which did not allow time for reflection on practice.
Unlike Jürgen Habermas, a living German philosopher and sociologist, who proposes that strategic action is: “self-interested action, orientated toward controlling or influencing others rather than coming to an understanding with them” (Collins and Makowsky, 1989), the entire team intentionally took three days off to revisit the Mission, Vision and Values and to develop a strategy statement for help2read. The help2read retreat took place at the idyllic beach resort, Swartriet which is located in the sleepy town of Jacobsbaai.
It was our late president who said that there is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. With this in mind the help2read team engaged in a deeply reflective and collaborative process which yielded both clear outputs as well as personal reflections. The revised Mission, Vision and Values are presented on our website while the personal reflections follow below.
Nicky Roy – Help2read Board Member:
It is really exciting to be invited into the operational side of an organisation from being on the board. I am extremely proud to be a part of this organisation. I can’t wait to fly the help2read flag as high as possible because the work we do is remarkable. We are in a business that sells hope and that is amazing. You are the best ambassadors for it, so well done.
John Young – Help2read Board Member:
As a new board member, I too am delighted to be here with the people doing the work and learning more about how things work. What has struck me not just today, but over the last couple of board meetings too, is first of all is how impressive it has been to watch your team, led by Lynn defining the work that help2read does. I think this programme should be everywhere and it sounds to me like you guys are the people who can make it happen. The ambition for this programme should be as large as it can be.
Elizabeth Pretorius – Finance and M&E Manager:
For me what stands out is strengths that everyone brings. Everyone is very strong in something and to work in this team is a privilege for me.
Elise Malherbe – help2read Board Member
I had a dual purpose running the sessions and as well as being a board member. As a board member I echo what Nicky and John have said; it was lovely to get closer to the team. It’s wonderful. As a session I have run. It’s not always easy to get the energy going. It’s a lot of hours. There were wonderful ideas and great commitment and great ambition too.
It’s a great privilege and somewhat of a burden. There is always more to do. You said at the beginning, when I asked about the scope of the problem, that you are addressing it one child at a time and that’s the way to go. I do agree that we should be everywhere but however big one gets you are still making a difference to every single child exposed Wonderful team. Wonderful work that you are doing! Keep going.
Lynn Campbell – MD
When we started talking about a retreat very early on, even before COVID times, there was a sense of excitement within me. Covid came and the absolute passion and the absolute commitment, the absolute intensity of your commitment has overtaken any expectation I’ve had of what we were building together. To see you now at this point, in an organisation which has been totally turned on its head during the past two years, is inspiring. I challenged you to the utmost but you took up that challenge. You are all so committed, passionate but realistic about going forward over the next three years. That’s the appreciation I bring to a moment of reflection like this. Now after more than two years with help2read, I can look forward to taking help2read to new heights. I did it alone for two years, but now the leadership team is strengthened by three people who work very closely with me and are also supported by all of you. The Vision for help2read is carried forward by all of you. I also feel supported from the side of the board. It has made a big difference. Thank you, Nicky, Elise and John.
Nikki Knowler – Business Development Manager
My reflections on this week: Firstly, I have always felt very privileged to work for an organisation that does something that is bigger than me. That is always something that I want to be able to do and we definitely do achieve that. Then to work with people that are committed, they give 100%; there is no one in this room who is not ever trying their utmost to make sure we make things happen. There couldn’t be a better way to work. This is something I am coming away with and am always very grateful for.
Anrika van Rhyn – Programme Coordinator
I think I really looked forward to the retreat as soon as we were planning it, we were finally going to meet everybody, and we were finally going to be in the same room together. Planning what our goals are for the future. Seeing where I fit in and what I can do. This gave me peace at heart.
Melody Volmink – Programmes Manager
I really want to echo the words of what Nikki has said; to be in a space like this for me, it’s been 11 years of absolute privilege. I am really so fortunate to be in a space where I’ve seen the organisation from a very young stage, help2read was at the time 5 years old, but so many things have happened and I have managed to pull through and that is really because I believe in the product of what we do. What we believe in and take out there. For me every child has a potential and every child needs support, the holding of their hand to take them where they need to be. I am a product of a child like that. I know exactly how our children have to fight; it is a real challenge for them to have a life in homes where we live. In the communities where we are working! I am a child like that. I understand the dynamics of where they find themselves so the privilege of where I am is because I believed in myself and I want to carry that message. I want children to know that they can and that they are able to, that they can reach levels that is higher and bigger than where they find themselves. The reflection for me, from the last few days, is now again given me more courage to walk the walk, not just talk, but actually do the work. Because we can and we will and we have! There are possibilities in every challenge we face, sometimes you will get frustrated, I become frustrated a lot. We did it, we can do it, and we can reach those goals. This week has proven to me that it is possible.
Busi Ntimbani – Programme Coordinator
When I started in January, We were two and then I was one and then we were like ten. When I started it was me and Polite in Joburg and then she left and then I always had this question in my mind – just when I joined, she is leaving and what will happen, where am I going and then suddenly there was that turn around. Covid happened and I went from 1 to 10. Those weekly check-ins and we were a team of 3 and then 5 and I then realised the team spirit was something that kept me looking forward. When I just log in on Zoom or whatever, someone is waiting on the other side. This week has shown me that one is not afraid to try, to learn because of the support from the team has. There is not an obstacle that I cannot move or shift because of this team. I really appreciate it – thank you so much.
Hilre Papier – Programme Coordinator
I think my love for community started 11 years ago with Holiday clubs. Coming here and being a part of this team has made me see a different side to community where we are working in schools, helping learners in schools. Honestly, I didn’t know the need that was so great in the schools. Now that I get to be a part of this team, I really just want to give my all and I want to say thank you to each and every one of you. That you have really just informed me more and also want to say thank you to Melody who has always been there when I needed something. With regards to reflection of this part of the last few days I am just really grateful as well. How well we work together. We all know where we are heading.
Jevine Goliath-Baartman – Programme Lead
I just want to say thank you for the past few days because I have learnt quite a lot and I am taking all that with me. I can implement this in the future and that is a huge step up for me. We do not doubt that 2021 will be another challenging year. However, with good planning, team work and intentional commitment we are able to provide quality reading support and pathways to employment in the communities that we serve.
Despite the many disruptions and hardships caused by Covid and Lockdown, it has had this positive outcome: It seems to have forced most of us to think about a few important things. We all know that our 21st-century working world has become increasingly fraught and pressurised. Increased levels of connectivity have enabled boundaries between our working and private lives to blur to a point where we all seem to thoughtlessly panic our way through our days (and nights) and to-do lists and we never stop to think.
Lockdown took that blurriness one step further for all of us. But our Lockdown realities enabled us to also think about a Help2Read future where working-from-home is permanent. This is perhaps what made the retreat so vibrant, honest and exciting: Everyone desperately needed time to escape, to debate, to organise our thoughts, and to consider the views of others on the new, collective Help2Read reality. The retreat showed us all that each person at Help2Read cares, understands and feels the weight of her/his responsibility to achieve our organisation’s audacious goals. To have time to reflect together on how we can best go about doing what needs to be done was empowering, inspiring and enlightening.