Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Taylor: "Why Can't We Be Friends"

Why Can’t We Be Friends

Have my thoughts about the NGO world changed? That’s essentially asking if the anal organizer inside of me who freaked out week one has put the paper bag down; I’ll get back to you on that. What I can say now is that I have a better understanding of the struggles many NGOs face.

For the second half of our DukeEngage trip the eight of us have been dispersed throughout the city. Now instead of working all together with one NGO we work at four different ones. I have been placed with Margarita, the CEO/Executive Director (take your pick on the title) of Unidad. Working with Margarita has given me an insight to the administrative world of NGOs (Spoiler Alert: dependency on funding/on the people and/or companies that provide funding sucks, period) as well as a chance to use some of my public policy skills (thank you Sanford).

This week, since it’s the first one, has been a week of transitions. Transition for us students who are working all over the place; transition of buses that I have to take to get to work, and transition for Unidad but it is top secret. (It’s one of those if I tell you I will have to kill you sorts of deals. Well actually that is a lie, but you know what I mean.)

A few disclaimers before I get to the real meat of this post:

1.     Being the daughter of a lawyer I have been cursed with the need use evidence to back up my claims. (Well maybe that’s a stretch since I have been known to judge some details here and there to avoid being grounded, whoops.)  However, given the need for sensitivity during this transition period I hope you have just take me at my word that I have basis for the next paragraph, in which I will make general statements about the struggles that nonprofit/NGO/service providers often face.

2.     I want to state that I, Taylor Doty, am a Negative Nancy. So if my opinions of the world in which I am merely a fly on the wall seem negative please do not take offense.  

Being on the ground and in the thick of NGO administrative work I am beginning to see the ugliest of all monsters—funding. While the community at large is the focus of the work done by most NGOs the need to keep their own heads above water trumps all. The fight, at the communities expense, to stay competitive and not fold under pressure due to lack of funding creates a “whose stick is bigger” contest that detracts from providing services to a community in need. The fact that funding, and lack there of, has created an environment in which the groups that are trying to better the community end up spending the majority of their time fighting other similar groups as a way to stand their ground and prove themselves strikes me as backwards. If the point is to provide the community with services, then do that. 

So I ask you world: Why Can’t We Be Friends?  Why can’t we work together to provide these necessary services to communities in need? Why do we get so caught up in who provides the services? As long as the services are being provided to the community, shouldn't we be happy?

Over and Out, 

Taylor Doty  

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