The first thing Heidi Partlow does each morning is check her e-mail. It’s always packed. As Compassion’s complementary interventions manager, she gets all kinds of e-mails each day.
E-mails about how to submit a proposal for a complementary interventions (CIV), e-mails from marketing departments about the particulars of a CIV, e-mails about a disaster that has just occurred.
So her e-mail inbox pretty much dictates her day. After attacking the onslaught of messages each morning, she has a cup of tea at 10 o’clock.
Then she spends a lot of time running around, especially during a week where there has been a crisis, like with the recent hurricanes, getting approvals for funds to be distributed.
But she slowed down enough to give us a peek into CIV and her world.
Complementary interventions completes our three core programs of child survival program, child sponsorship program, and the leadership development program.
CIVs include things like all our partner development training (training the church partner staff), implementing our curriculum, the AIDS initiative, vocational skills training, malaria intervention, disaster response, and health activities like vaccinations and health awareness campaigns.
Tell us about the life and times of a CIV. Where does it start?
Generally, the need for a CIV is identified by the church partners, and our partnership facilitators collect those needs from them. The country office then combines them to find what the like needs are.
That way, they can design a strategy within their country to decide what CIVs and needs they can address this year, and what needs are priorities within that country.
Then they write a proposal for the CIV, which goes through an approval process in their area office. When the approved CIV is submitted to us here, it goes into our database of proposals so the global partners can find donors to fund them.
What happens if a CIV doesn’t get funded?
Each area has some funds of their own that they can decide how to be used for the things that are vitally important to get done.
People like to build solid things, like a playground, because they’re something they can see, but it’s harder to see the value in a partner development activity, so these are harder to get funded.
If you ask field staff, they say that is the most important activity they do. They need the activities like child advocacy training, because developing the church partners is vitally important.
If you could share one thing with the sponsors and donors, what would it be?
We have highly qualified and very intelligent field staff who have created country strategies that really help address the country’s need.
Through CIV, donors have a unique opportunity to come alongside that and provide for the needs that go beyond sponsorship.
The field staff is awesome. They work so hard, and they give so much, both professionally and personally.
They’re very invested in the work they do, and they do a lot of work. So have patience with them. They will bend over backwards to help people, but things take time in order to do them well.
What’s the best part of your job?
I like that what I do impacts a lot of people. Like when I help an office get funding for a proposal, as in the Haiti hurricane crises. I don’t work directly with the children, but I can use the gifts I’ve been given to impact children administratively .
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Recently, the hardest part is seeing a need that can’t be addressed because of lack of funding. In the Haiti disaster, there’s a large need, but we have raised only a small part of it, and there are children out there that don’t have a home anymore.
I remember when we got our proposals for the global food crisis, and I read through all of them. Honestly, I went home depressed — the need of our countries was overwhelming.
Not too long after that, we had our prayer and fasting day, and the fasting really meant so much more to me. I’d read the proposals the day before, and I realized how blessed I am.
What’s a story that’s impacted you the most about a CIV?
There was a little girl in Kenya who from birth had a growth on her face. It got bigger as she grew, a large mass right beside her nose, and it eventually pushed her eye out of shape.
The kids in her area shunned her because they thought there must be something wrong with the girl, like she was possessed. So she didn’t go to school but worked all day instead.
The Kenya staff worked to get her medical treatment through a medical CIV. They arranged surgery to have it removed, and then she had reconstructive surgery.
It’s really encouraging to see that connection. This was a proposal I read, and now I just got the update that she’s back in school and is getting back into the community. Those kinds of things make you realize, wow, this is huge.
If you had a bunch of money you were going to donate, what CIV would you give to?
That’s tough! I appreciate how diverse they are. It’s too hard to decide: They’re all good! When you’re in the field and see the need, you want to fund everything. I just wish I had a million dollars so I could!