Working Together: Chirac and Julie

Experiences, Stories | August 25, 2022

Each month, CBM Australia looks behind the scenes at our employees and partners who are devoted to improving the lives of people with disabilities.  

Introducing Chirac, the manager of a community-based Inclusive Development program in northwest Cameroon, which CBM Australia has supported for over 10 years, and Julie, the Senior Quality Advisor at CBM Australia.

Julie was involved in evaluating the program in Cameroon in 2018 and is currently working with Chirac to promote some research they have done on gender-based violence against women with disabilities.

What’s good about working with Chirac?

Julie: I travelled to Cameroon in 2018 to evaluate their program. I saw how Chirac was very reflective about the work he and his team were doing. I saw some impressive strategies that they were taking to tackle stigma and discrimination and help people access health and rehabilitation services, making sure people with disabilities got a better deal. I learnt a lot about how he works to change things slowly in his community.

What do you remember about the evaluation that Julie led?

Chirac: She’s a cartoonist, and she used illustrations and cartoons to get people to reflect during the evaluation. And then, she pulled the findings from the evaluation together in a cartoon format. It made me think that we need to present our work in simpler ways so people can understand it easier.

Since then, there’s been a paradigm shift in the organisation. Whenever we work on a piece of research – for example, we did some investigations into abuse of children with disability – we think about how we can get the research into illustrations in an easily accessible format.

So, what has that led to?

Chirac: The act of communicating with simplicity has transformed the way we work. To me, it was one of the huge benefits that came from our time with Julie.

What did you learn from working with Chirac?

Julie: What I saw was that Chirac is a person who ‘leads from behind’ in supporting and unifying his team. He is thoughtful, and he understands the value of developing trust with people, and that’s what I saw in the way he was interacting with, for example, some of the local government counsellors.

And what are Chirac’s qualities as a team leader?

Julie: He is very open to taking on feedback and reflecting on how he and his team can improve and do the best job they can to make life better for people with disability. He’s like, “What can we push ourselves to do further to extend our thinking and involve people with disabilities more?”

Now his team is looking at issues of sexual violence against women with disabilities – see their report. It’s a challenging area to tackle, but led by Chirac, the team push themselves to be strong advocates for social change.

Thank you, Chirac and Julie!

CBM’s program in Cameroon is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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