Friday, February 10, 2012

Coaching - the wonderful world-changing web

Posted on Friday, February 10, 2012 by International Coach Federation

In celebration of International Coaching Week (February 5-11), a different guest blog post was highlighted on the ICF blog each day this week. This is the final in this special series.

How many coaches do you know who have directly helped lift whole families out of deep poverty?  That is Martin Baldwin, an inspiration for ICW, epitomising the best that coaching can achieve.

Martin Baldwin
Martin and his wife Ruth set up the charity Cosecha (‘Harvest’ in Spanish) in Guatemala in 1998. ‘Life education’ is its hub: educating children and ensuring their families have the wherewithal to support them through the programme, be it ensuring they are fed, have somewhere to do their homework, or providing emotional support.

So where does coaching come in? Martin started coaching Estuardo after he ‘failed’ as an administrator at Cosecha where, paradoxically, he behaved arrogantly and stubbornly, yet was unable to take initiative or be proactive – the latter typical of the local culture of deference to the boss.

Martin asked questions unheard of by a man brought up in poverty by a poor single, Mayan mother. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What are your hopes and dreams?  Poor children say they dream of becoming a lawyer, but they know it’s pie in the sky. Martin asked Estuardo about ideas he could turn into reality. Using the ‘Celebration of Life’ model Martin eventually enabled Estuardo to conceive of a fulfilling life in a culture where he had no home of his own, no social security and a limited support network; to develop realistic goals and self-confidence based on his own hitherto unrecognised values, gifts and skills.

Estuardo discovered he is ‘a people person’: good at respecting, teaching them, and building relationships. He understands these ‘Western’ values whilst remaining true to his own culture.

After Martin returned to the UK in 2007, he put his trust in Estuardo, by now his Guatemalan deputy, and appointed him the charity’s local Director.

Estuardo is responsible for:
  • A team of six Guatemalans, of disadvantaged Mayan descent;
  • The educational programme of 35 students. (Cosecha’s philosophy is to support them through to completion, which could be for as long as 14 years);
  • A commitment to their families of the means to sustain the child through their education; and
  • A £40,000 annual budget, in a country where a qualified teacher earns £100-£120 per month.
As a result of Cosecha’s work there are already five families who will never be poor again - four running their own businesses, the largest employing eight people. Each month Estuardo impacts the lives of 300 people in impoverished Tecpan.

 

Estuardo and a lot of happy, smiling faces
Martin continues to coach Estuardo – visiting twice a year, talking for two to three hours weekly on Skype, emailing between calls. And I coach Martin…helping him to see where his gifts are best employed in continuing support of Estuardo, Cosecha and the people of Guatemala.

I met Martin in a sleepy English town. Little did I imagine when I offered pro-bono coaching how it fitted into this wonderful world-changing web...

It’s hard to do this story justice in 500 words! Read more, or please donate, at Cosecha's website.

Caroline Talbott
Caroline Talbott coaches and develops leaders, especially those who have had success in a profession (eg lawyers, chartered surveyors, engineers, HR specialists) and then moved into a leadership role. 
Professionals in Leadership blog
Caroline Talbott - catalyst for change
Twitter: @CaroCatalyst

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