My wife Robyn and I were looking to move out of our comfort zone and give our children an experience they would never forget. So earlier this summer, we traveled to Tanzania. The impetus for the family trip was to visit and volunteer at a children’s home called Majengo, which we’ve supported financially for a number of years. Majengo provides comprehensive care for orphans in the village of Mto wa Mbu and also ensures that other local children are able to receive an education.
Majengo is successful because it is a partnership between organizations across two continents. Entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada saw a tremendous need in the area and worked together to address the issue of orphaned children. Instead of trying to build something on their own, they worked together and included local leaders in Tanzania. The partnership has completely changed the trajectory of the lives of hundreds of children.
The timing of our trip was particularly interesting for me because I was preparing to start my role in a newly-formed team at Cisco within the Global Partner Organization. This team focuses on helping partners be successful with Cisco’s Customer Experience services – both in reselling and complementing with their own services.
The parallels between my family’s experience in Tanzania and my new Customer Experience partner team became more evident in driving customer experience go-to-market for our partners. Cisco relies on partners to be the local expertise and own the trusted-advisor relationship with customers. It is only by combining Cisco industry and solution expertise, with partners that have a deep relationship with the customer, that we can jointly create transformational outcomes for those customers. In Tanzania, that local expertise and authentic community connection is a crucial part of success in serving the children at Majengo.
In Tanzania, we spent an amazing time with the children while on-site at Majengo, learning and playing some of their favorite games. We brought jump ropes with us from the US to replenish their supply, which was a huge hit. We also sanded and painted rusty playground equipment and spent time with the administrators to talk about strategy and fundraising.
After three days in Mto wa Mbu, we left for a safari in the Serengeti. Seeing so many animals in their natural African savannah habitat was absolutely incredible. But while safari was an amazing and unforgettable experience, it was those days in Mto wa Mbu that we really got to see a beautiful and welcoming culture, and be a small part of something special to help children in need.
This was a life-changing experience for my family. All three of my children — Caleb (age 14), Hayden (age 12), and Avery (age 10)—fully embraced the adventure and have been able to form new insights about the world that few kids their age are able to do. As a parent, I wanted my children to see the challenges others face, and put their empathy into action. We all came away with even more than we gave.
I give Cisco, and my experience with Cisco Partners, a lot of the credit for making this experience possible. It’s a great feeling to work for a company that encourages this type of giving. I was able to use Time2Give days off for the time I was volunteering, as well as the company’s matching gifts program to double my support of Majengo.
I gained new insights about the power of partnerships as the core driver of sustainable transformation. It’s also been incredibly gratifying to share this experience with my managers and peers, who have all been very supportive and interested in hearing about the experience. It’s my hope that this adventure in giving inspires someone else to expand their view of the world and help someone else along the way.
Let me know what you think about the power of partnerships in the comments section below.