Mid-way through last year we (READ for Life) were contacted by an international NGO working in Gulu to see if we could develop a partnership with them. We underwent a lengthy process to be considered an ‘official’ partner, which included attending meetings, sharing and writing policy documents, attending more meetings, and sharing more paperwork.
A couple of weeks ago we were called to a meeting with this ‘said’ NGO to the most expensive hotel in Gulu. We were told that we were now an approved partner and discussed a multi-million dollar project the ‘said’ NGO wanted us to implement. The outcomes required were quite enormous and would require a lot of work on our behalf: training about 375 teachers in almost 50 village primary schools; following them up all year, recording data, etc. We would have to expand our staff significantly, possibly even double our team.
We were quite excited about this opportunity: we knew we would have to take on other areas that were not our specialty, but we were happy to do that to have the opportunity to expand our work in a greater number of schools.
After that meeting at the nice hotel, which of course included a buffet lunch, we madly worked on our implementation plan and budget, along with advertising for new staff which we were told on numerous occasions that we needed to do and were surprised that we hadn’t done yet.
We put aside a lot of our current work and drafted plans and budgets, being as economical as we could. During the most recent meeting we shared our draft implementation plan and draft budget. We were asked why we were planning on hiring education staff to implement the education project and why didn’t we just ask ‘volunteers’ from the community to train the teachers. I went on my long rant about the importance of education and ‘volunteers’ (whatever definition you give to that word) would not cut it!
When the final figures were crunched our budget allocation from this international NGO for implementing the education part of this project for a whole year was less than what it would cost us to train those 375 teachers for four days during the holidays (transporting them to a secondary school to sleep in boarding facilities). And remember, this international NGO was given millions and millions of dollars from a donor for this project.
Needless to say, we will not be an implementing partner to this international NGO. Dan thinks we dodged a bullet, well maybe we did…