Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Crucial Meeting, Progress Achieved

When I first arrived at my new site, I was taxed with putting together an organizational profile and strategic plan. This profile would include everything from the community needs to our goals, response, and programs and then information on the NGO and its financial and programmatic future. The document totaled 22 pages. I sent the finished report to someone at a national organization that oversees projects for NGOs and CBOs like ours, mostly in an attempt to set up a meeting to discuss networking and to show that our organization is doing great work.

Yesterday, I received word that this same national organization wanted to come do a site visit at my NGO and that they would be bringing representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to evaluate our organization and assess our needs. This was to be done in the belief that, if they liked what they heard and saw, they would partner with us on projects and provide capacity building tools to help us grow.

This afternoon, three representatives from my NGO (the Coordinator, the Administrative Secretary, and the Board's Vice Chairperson) and I had the opportunity to sit down with four representatives from SADC and the Program Manager from the national organization to discuss my NGO. For nearly two hours we discussed our organizational capacity in terms of governance, finances, and programs. They stated their interest is in helping build strong foundations for organizations making a positive and long-standing contribution by providing expensive programs (like Quickbooks) that NGOs like ours would not be able to afford and then intricate training on these systems to help them thrive. They also stated that they have internal access to future grant funding that they would help secure on the organization's behalf. Essentially, what this means for the organizations chosen is that they will provide the materials and training to develop strong financial systems and then grow from there by assisting in funding programs. Unfortunately, they explained, they had to pick only ten organizations in all of Botswana to offer such assistance. They told us they have spent the last two weeks touring the country to meet with and assess different organizations and that we are the last one before they will make their final decisions.

After our long discussion, I made a plea on behalf of my NGO to receive this assistance, stating that the staff is among the most dedicated and hard-working people I know, that they have a passion and a desire to learn, and that I will be here for a year to help support them in their endeavors and to help ensure sustainability of their efforts - plainly: their choosing our NGO would not come to naught (I would make sure of it).

On their way out the door, one of the SADC representatives from Zimbabwe pulled me aside and said that my presentation of the organization and my appeal to the committee has surely secured us a spot as one of the ten NGOs across the nation to receive assistance. He informed me that our acceptance packet will be sent to my email address tomorrow and that we will be honored at a "welcome banquet" next week Thursday. He then shook my hand and followed the others to the car.

After everyone left, I excitedly told my colleagues from the NGO what had been said to me and we all jumped up and down, gave each other great big hugs, and did a happy dance! This is a big day in Gabane, folks! A really great day! Hooray! :)

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