I woke early, rolled over, glanced at my phone. Coup d’état! My eyes popped wide open.

Dignitaries arrested. Internet cut. Airport closed. Banks shuttered. Roads blocked.

It was this country’s last straw. After a generation of armed sectarian clashes. And scorched earth ethnic cleansing. Plus, impoverishing covid lockdowns. But now this?

Feverishly, I typed a text…not received. My mind raced. I called a landline…no answer.

I rang again. And again. Then…contact!

Our colleague CP was safe. Her country is shaking violently, but not CP. She’s steadfast, immovable, proactive.

Her vision is crystal clear: “the light will shine like stars in the dark corners of the earth.”

Inside her darkening corner, she monitors volatile risks, and pivots in real time, time and again:

  • Arson mayhem? Sync warning signals with the neighborhood watch.
  • Arbitrary arrests? Move at dawn before armed checkpoints threaten.
  • Random robberies? Dress down and carry minimum cash.
  • Traumatized kids? Calm hearts with songs; fortify minds with scriptures.
  • Year two of no school? Engage private tutors; launch vocational training.
  • No internet? Mobilize on-site youth leaders to sustain peer learning groups.

So, what’s possible in the whitewater rapids of pandemic plus coup d’état chaos?

  • A contextualized values curriculum nurtures steady character growth.
  • Caregivers of 26 tribal children verify lasting behavior changes, even under duress.
  • Those same children start touch typing in English on laptops, a lifetime first.
  • Four emerging youth leaders model values and mentor younger peer groups.

 

Those four young leaders describe why they volunteer to take on extra work despite upheaval:

  • “I hope I can serve others better.”
  • “I want to improve at living our values and carrying out new responsibilities.”
  • “It will be good as a leader to be more accountable and aware of my weaknesses.”
  • “My interest is to become more disciplined and improve my leadership skills.”

CP’s investments in people are multiplying results. From one visionary CP… to four maturing servant leadersto 22 young enthusiasts. And those tribal youngsters aspire to reproduce their values and skills with their village peers in their country’s dark corners.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.

That star cluster emerging within this dark cataclysm is no isolated fluke. Others similarly gleam in zones of misery in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Each enduring constellation is spun into orbit by five factors that together propel transformative impact.

  • A hard place.
  • A rooted insider.
  • Stellar values.
  • An inspired dream.
  • Accompanying advocates.

You can explore the full recipe here https://www.dreamsindeed.org/what-we-do/. But for now, let me unpack that first ingredient.

Hard places? Why not just pick low-hanging fruit in greener pastures? Three truths compel us to start where it’s hard. And to double-down when hard gets harder.

First, justice. The moral imperative puts the last first. Why must the weak aspire to survive while the strong thrive? Can dignity long endure when violence contorts might into right? Four days before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “…the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” So we stake our claim on that long arc.

Second, mercy. Metastasizing misery cannot be walled off. We’re all in this together. Deathly ill in London’s 1624 epidemic, poet John Donne mused, “No man is an island…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” So we remain our brother and sister’s keeper.

Third, humility. Surfing the edge of chaos drowns pride. The only way through is to try, crash, adapt, pivot. John Seely Brown, my ex-boss and Xerox PARC chief scientist, explains: “If you don’t have a disposition to question, you’re going to fear change. But if you’re comfortable questioning, experimenting, connecting things—then change is something that becomes an adventure.” So we clamber over our failures and go for broke again.

We aim to keep pace with CP, as she twirls like an intrepid kayaker in surging white water!

Our vision is a light in every hard place in our generation. Persevering decades in the trenches taught us costly lessons, tested by fire. We’ll share those discoveries in coming Field Insight editions as we celebrate the 20th anniversary since David and I co-founded Dreams InDeed. Thanks for adventuring with us, year after year, decade after decade!

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We’ve got some great news to share from the Haskells!  

 However, before we jump into that, allow us to introduce ourselves as the chairs of the US and Swiss boards of directors for Dreams InDeed. 

I am
Rick Williamson, US board chair.  As a clinical psychologist, I specialize in trauma recovery and strengthening individuals and communities against stress impact. I prepare humanitarians and responders worldwide to serve effectively in harm’s way.  Over my fifteen years in this field, I’ve recognized the essential role of those special persons in every community who embrace and build up their most affected neighbors. 

I serve with Dreams InDeed not only because we engage in the world’s hard places, but we also aim to strengthen the “insider” for the truly transformative impact that the world so desperately needs. I am honored to serve along with each of you in support of the Dreams InDeed mission.

And, I am
Joe Campbell, Swiss board chair.  As a mediator in civil and political disputes, I contributed to peaceful resolution of the troubles in my home country of Northern Ireland, leading to the Good Friday Agreement.  I also mediated in Nepal alongside politicians, community activists, and church leaders in the search for a just and lasting peace. In both, I supported Dreamers and have often been a Dreamer myself. 

 

I know what it means to be affirmed and encouraged by outsiders who make it their business to be informed enablers.  That sensitive participation fosters hope amidst despair.  It is my honour to join in the crucial work of Dreams InDeed.  Together with you, I will do all I can to nurture sparks of hope into lights of joy.

Now, here is the news we just received from David and Janice in the Middle East:

 

Dear Rick and Joe, 

 

Thank you for your faithful and effective servant leadership as our US and Swiss board chairs.  We were challenged by the wisdom and faith of both boards setting such ambitious goals this year.  As our fiscal year gets underway now in July, we’re excited that strategic doors of opportunity are swinging open on every aim we agreed together!  

 

Goal: equip exemplary dreamer cases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East Africa.  Progress: despite escalating violence, dreamers are persevering with six initiatives among the hardest countries of the worldwide Fragile States Index.  This year, we’ll sustain both Dreams InDeed’s unprecedented regional registration and our continuing Jordan residency to strengthen these dreamers, guided by Janice.

 

Goal: research parable communications to engage closed minds via both word and deed.  Progress: The University of Oxford has approved David for doctoral field research on The Pedagogy of Parable.  To develop this Dreams InDeed training curriculum, David will shuttle between research in Oxford and case work on the ground in the Middle East.

 

Goal: research publishable Middle East cases on the transformation of pluralist conflict.  Progress: an exemplary Lebanese visionary has volunteered his civil society, public service, and business networks for rigorous field research.  Plus two Oxford professors, experts in values education and intercultural dialogue, will supervise the fieldwork.  

 

Goal: engage next-generation prospects to serve dreamers in hard places worldwide.  Progress: Kellogg College, with Oxford’s greatest number and diversity of international graduate students, has granted David membership.  Adjacent to Kellogg, Dreams InDeed has secured an operating base in Oxford for us to host and befriend global candidates.

 

Goal: expand our thought leader networks for aligned advisors and European board members.  Progress: upon review of David’s Pedagogy of Parable research proposal, six professors immediately volunteered their expertise in international development, political science, public policy, economics, leadership science, and character cultivation.

 

 

On behalf of the boards of directors of Dreams InDeed, we thank you again for journeying with us on our mission to strengthen dreamers in hard places so the poor thrive as God intended. We look forward to your continuing participation as we accelerate toward our shared vision: “a light in every hard place in our generation.”