This past weekend, the major donor of the large-scale projects, that had been done and are in progress, came to check up on the projects. Coming with her was a famous photographer and a journalist of a high-living magazine in Norway, where they are all from. When I first met the group, I was surprised at how unfriendly they seemed and did not care to include me so I took the hint and left shortly after eating my lunch. As the time went on, the conversations began to close in on the social projects in the village and the Sunder Rang crafts center that she initially supported. The conversations were unfortunately unsuccessful in the sense of development and ended up being more about what she wanted done in the village rather than how things should be done.
Her favorite line in the duration of her visit was “I am not paying for it to be done that way, so I will just stop giving money.” Donor development tends to be the hardest and most unsuccessful development because in most cases the donor feels it is about how to do things their way instead of realizing the culture and actually spending the time to develop relationships and understand the mentality of the people. After one day in the village, the donor and the journalist came to the crafts center for one hour then visited a few homes of the women who are working there, after which they seemed to have a more thorough understanding of the village than I do after living here for 6 months. Not really, just exaggerating, but the donor then started telling both my supervisor and myself the way things should be ran. Other than her thoughts, through a translator, she told the women they could have a raise, which was then refuted by my supervisor, so tomorrow when I pay the women I have a strong feeling I will be getting an earful on how they did not make enough money. Oh the woes of managing a crafts center when I cannot speak the local language…
The donor did go shopping to the block printer with my supervisor and myself in order to buy more material for the center. This was very generous indeed, except that we only use regular cotton block print to make bags and garments so when she spent nearly $1000 on silk sarees and asked me to cut them up to make something out of them, I nearly fell on the floor. Some of the most beautiful sarees were bought and I have tagged them today with how much each costs and will let the impending manager know what they are for and where they came from. I just can’t muster up the courage to cut up a beautifully hand-painted or silk saree and make a shirt or bag out of it. Maybe the next person can.
The good and promising time came with the president of Basecamp Foundation, the NGO that opened the project and supports the social projects in Chandelao. As someone who has been in development organizations for many, many years now, we had quite a lot to talk about and agreed on many opinions that come to play in the developing world. Per the donor, he said that she gave a large sum of money and that is it, she is not the person who can say exactly how to use it, because the culturally respectful and sustainability could get compromised. Of course this is what both Praduman and myself where trying to explain to her and knew to be true, but it was too difficult to change her mind.
The president has assured me that before I leave he will help me get a hold of the login and password for the Sunder Rang website that I have been emailing about for nearly 6 months now. That would be a huge feat considering it was the first task on my to do list for Sunder Rang and it has yet to get done since the password and login seem to be lost. The website is almost completed on a site for building webpages but I am just hoping to be able to upload it before I leave India.
Other than that, the Basecamp president said he would love to talk with me about coming to Kenya and working with their major project there and helping to combine the two Basecamp projects smoothly. This is an idea, but I am unsure if he is offering a job or an unpaid volunteer position… Because after this, the goal is to find a paid position somewhere in the wide world of development or development consultiThis past week has been a bit hectic since both the major donor for the project and the president of the foundation were both visiting Chandelao Village at different times. I figured this would be a great time to charm the bosses and let them know of the few problems that have yet to be solved… This turned out to be both difficult and prong.