Our Updated Vision, Mission & Values
At the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, just in time for Free To Shine’s 8th Birthday, we decided it was time to review Free To Shine's mission, vision and values. Getting our mission, vision and core values clear, concise and understood by everyone on our team was a crucial first step to our strategic planning, not only for the year ahead but for years to come.First, our Managing Director and in-country Leadership Team held several meeting to clarify our vision and mission. Our goal was to come up with a forward-thinking vision that expresses the changes we wish to see for our beneficiaries and the communities we serve. We also wanted this vision to help our team understand our long-term goals, keeping them inspired, motivated and moving in the right direction. Finally, we wanted the vision to capture the very reasons why Free To Shine exists.
Free To Shine’s Vision:
As you can see, our vision is short and to the point, making it easy for us all to remember, understand and explain to our beneficiaries, partners and supporters.Next, we got to work on our mission. This was more challenging, because Free To Shine incorporates a holistic approach to child protection that has many different aspects. Our goal was to concisely capture three things: 1) what we do = prevent trafficking; 2) for whom = girls; and 3) how we do it = by strengthening families so parents will educate and protect their children.
Free To Shine’s Mission:
We then held a workshop with the entire team in Cambodia to dissect and discuss each aspect of our mission and vision – we practised and practised until we could all articulate them clearly and consistently. We also spent time translating each phrase from English to Khmer.The second half of the workshop focused on Free To Shine’s core values. Our values were identified by the team in a previous workshop and then narrowed down to five. This second workshop was therefore focused on prioritising the values so that they could be applied to our work more practically and uniformly. There was a lively debate around which values to rank the highest. We used case studies to help us decide on the order – e.g. if there was a case where we had to decide between prioritising a girl’s safety vs. her education, we all agreed that her safety should be the number one priority, no matter what.These values should guide each and every one of us at Free To Shine, informing the decisions we make and actions we take; we will all strive to embody them both individually and as an organisation:
As a child protection organisation working to prevent trafficking and exploitation of girls, safety is our number one value. We adhere to best practices in child protection. We work to strengthen the families and communities we partner with so that they can prioritise the safety of their children. When we are faced with a difficult case and must decide what is best for the child, we consider their safety first and foremost. As a team, we operate under the rule that we must keep ourselves and each other safe in order to ensure the safety of the girls and families we support.
We identify strength and resilience in each other and in the girls and families we support, and work to build upon that potential, rather than focus on weaknesses or shortcomings.Your strong support of Free To Shine results in a domino effect, providing a solid foundation and fuel for our team. Our united team keeps us supported from within and motivated to achieve our goals. Our team members act as powerful role models and pillars of strength for the girls and their families. The girls, in turn, inspire us all. Ultimately, we hope to see these empowered, educated girls and families become the leaders and shapers of their communities, making Cambodia stronger.Together, we are stronger.
We believe that education creates choice and opportunity and is the key to preventing the trafficking and exploitation of girls. As a team, we know that we must educate and inform ourselves before we can educate others. We cultivate an environment of constant learning, sharing and growth. We seek out and participate in strategic alliances and professional networks where mutual learning can be achieved through sharing. We know that girls cannot be educated in isolation, so we pass what we learn not only onto the girls on our program, but to their families and wider communities, our networks and partners, and our donors and supporters.
It takes a village! Partnership and collaboration are central to our approach. We don’t simply serve the girls and families on our program, we partner with them to achieve common goals for the community as a whole.
In order to concentrate our efforts where they are needed most, we consider equity above equality. We assess and enrol the girls who are most at-risk of trafficking and exploitation, from the most disadvantaged families. We provide more intensive support and resources to those in crisis. For example, our Social Work services are reserved for girls or families faced with particularly challenging times and therefore receive more support or resources in comparison to a family that is not on our social work program.Now, with our vision, mission and values clearly defined and understood, we’ve created large posters in Khmer and English to put up on our office walls – to continually remind us of who we are, what is important to us, and where we are headed.
The mission and vision were then used to guide our strategic planning and annual work plan. Additionally, the values will be incorporated into our employee performance reviews, to ensure they are being adhered to and applied appropriately. Finally, we will start communicating them all to our beneficiaries, donors, partners and supporters via social media, reports and future blog posts!As a final remark, Free To Shine would like to thank you for your interest and support in our organisation. We are determined more than ever to use your support in the best way to help our girls and their community.