Indian coordinators' reflections from Africa, part 2
Recently three of our program coordinators from India traveled to Kenya and Uganda to see how the Unbound program works in those countries. They had the opportunity to learn from their African coworkers and to experience what poverty looks like in Kenya and Uganda compared to India. This second reflection is from Selvaraj P., the program coordinator for our Bhagalpur office in India.
First of all, I congratulate the Nairobi Team for their cordial welcome and family spirit. The Nairobi team is composed of knowledge and experience, and they are excellent teachers and possess great communication skill. The love and excitement they bring to the program is a treat to watch and emulate. Team spirit, program focus, talent recognition, people centered policies and excellent leadership at the top level are some of the keys to their success. It is a team on the move with great attitude and commitment. Keep up the good work you do for the poor!
The Nairobi program is well focused on people centered growth, and is greatly decentralized. Departmental meetings and discussions with staff members broadened my understanding of the program in Nairobi; in return it is helping me to restructure my program in Bhagalpur to be even better.
I liked the concept of cooperatives. The way they function and monitor all key areas of the program gives me immense joy that people own the program, which in itself is a wonderful landmark. It is something that I am indebted to the Nairobi Project, to be specific, as my guide. They have an excellent structure and strategies in place. It is just a matter of time that they excel in all that they undertake.
The attitude of the beneficiaries and the families is great to watch. They love to be part of the program. Even though they are poor, the smiles and satisfaction they bring to Unbound speaks volumes of the programs’ ethical standards and years of hard work.
SACCO (savings and credit cooperatives) committees are well trained and know exactly what their responsibilities are. They help the program hugely. I also liked the idea of training the mothers in various phases.
Income generating activities, like village hotels, sewing or embroidery, grocery shops or vegetable selling shops, are all great exhibitions of human potentials or capacity building measures.
Participation in SMG (support mothers group) meetings helped me to understand the praiseworthy leadership skills of Nairobi program’s mothers in all levels from group to management level. It does display a great intent of talent and skill of the ordinary women.
The umbrella teams are great to watch — their ability and potential to prioritize and provide an inclusive plan, to distribute resources and draw annual plans and budgets are good talent investments.
The Nairobi team has a very good evaluation process for each and every activity that they undertake. It is a very good practice to take the program ahead. They have a clear goal; and they are using evaluation process as a tool for this goal attainment.
Uganda is a lovely country with exciting people, great culture and music, beautiful landscapes with lakes and rivers, full of coffee plants, tea gardens, fruits, grains and medicinal herbs, and a wonderful climate to remember.
Kampala’s staff members are awesome to be with. The great memorable jokes and their friendly nature made us feel at home all the time. It was a great time spent with ease and comfort, but full of learning.
It was a joy in learning the importance of internal tools to support a far and widespread program like Kampala in various areas, such as correspondence, goal setting, health, academic, evaluating pros and cons of each activity, family sustainability through agriculture, and economic strengthening.
Formation of parents into various levels of committees which are involved in planning, budgeting, activities implementation and follow up, or program monitoring are the great concept which I wish to emulate in our program here. You are able to know the people’s needs and necessities, challenges and successes, and most importantly hear the voices of people in decision making in more specific way, which in turn help you to take better decisions and able to enhance the program plans better.
Beneficiaries and their families possess a very in-depth knowledge of the program. In our village visits I could see all the income generating activities build through the program; which is very good step towards empowerment. In a course of period the families acquire sustainability.
The beneficiaries may be poor, but they are very generous. They treat the guest with utmost reverence.
As a whole, the trip to Kenya and Uganda was so fruitful and enriched with great learning experiences. It was more than what I expected. I salute the hoisting projects for their excellent show piece of talent involved in the planning and execution. I am sure it might have taken loads of hard work in planning the entire process to educate us with their great experiences. I am totally humbled to have such a wonderful experience in the Nairobi and Kampala projects.
I must also thank my fellow Indian coordinators Vincent and Seema for their good presentations, sharing, cooperation etc. I could understand them better in a very positive way. Lots of positive learning being together as a group on this trip, and I cherish the memories.