No matter how self-aware we are when we come into international aid, philanthropy, or social enterprise, most people, especially in the beginning, operate from a worldview in which change in poor people’s lives is possible with our help.
As I've written before, the jury is still out on this in my mind.
In my career, I have…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 5, 2013 at 4:24pm — No Comments
This is a guest post by Jennifer Lentfer of how-matters.org on the REPSSI (Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative) blog.
Growing up, my family life was not easy. My father drank and it weighed heavily on my mother, who did her best to maintain as much normalcy for me and my brothers as possible. Looking back, our home’s “culture of silence” was often the…Continue
After working in global health for over 30 years, Ruth Stark wrote a book to guide her daughter, Taryn, also an aid professional. To celebrate Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a chapter from it, which Ruth graciously agreed to have appear on how-matters.org. (You can see my March review of How to Work in Someone Else's Country …Continue
Once in a while someone will say something to you that perfectly encapsulates what you’ve been trying to convey, only in a more concise, elegant or articulate way. @Semhar Araia, founder of the Diaspora African Women’s Network did that for me in a conversation recently, and her brilliant summary has stayed with me over the last few weeks, resulting in this poem last night.
I dedicate it to her and the…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 11, 2012 at 7:00am — No Comments
Rich countries delivered $3.2 trillion of aid to poor countries between 1960 and 2008 (World Bank, 2011). Yet only 36% of aid workers think projects achieve their intended impact (McKinsey & Devex, 2011).
Aid recipients agree, calling for a change in aid’s business model—from that of delivery of goods and…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 10, 2012 at 10:54pm — No Comments
I've often said that it was easier for me to move to rural Zimbabwe than to Detroit. When people ask me why this farm-girl-turned-aid-worker devoted myself to placing community-driven development initiatives at the forefront of aid, here’s why:…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on May 7, 2012 at 8:21pm — No Comments
“Let go and let God.” It’s a mantra of Alcoholics Anonymous. And after the last week or so, I’m wondering if it’s time for international aid to adopt the same approach to recovery (with more politically correct secular references of course).
Last week I attended the “Summit for Aid Effectiveness in Global…Continue
From yesterday's “But will this be sustainable?” also comes...
“This project will be innovative.”
The development aid sector is not lacking in ideas or methods and it's hardly appropriate to declare one's self "innovative," right?
Last year when I found the one-page piece I wrote about a local implementing…Continue
"But will this be sustainable?"
This is a question I find it harder and harder to tolerate it in discussions about international development. (Luckily, due to my nature and to this blog, I rarely have to bite my tongue.)
I share this though because we as aid workers and funders need to challenge this notion of the necessity of the "sustainability" of activities within aid projects. Basic services to people must be sustainable. Training…Continue
Below are some other posts featuring local champions on…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on April 16, 2012 at 6:00am — No Comments
Sharing a link to my storify-ed livetweets from last night's panel discussion on foreign policy and humanitarian aid efforts in Uganda and the Congo in response to the international media attention garnered by Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 campaign. Panelists included Maurice Carney of Friends of the Congo, Milton Allimadi of …Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on April 14, 2012 at 2:30pm — No Comments
Understanding the organizational dynamics of local, indigenous, community-based groups directly serving vulnerable families is vastly different from the project-based, accountability-by-paper world of the aid industry. While those in the aid system may acknowledge local groups’ resourcefulness in mobilizing local resources, their language and cultural competencies, and responsiveness to communities’ needs, there are challenges in working with local groups that many organizations are not up…Continue
Andebo Pax Pascal shares his experience as an aid worker in Africa’s newest country in his second guest post. By examining beneficiaries’ place (or lack thereof) in two projects, he explores whether the development discourse has drifted into the abstract, beyond those he serves.
The idea of different categories of people--donors, government representatives,…Continue
When I was a girl, I wanted a horse, sooooo bad. Every Christmas, every birthday, I had but one request.
“Please, Dad, I just want a horse.”
“There are no horses on pig farms,” my father would flatly respond.
But maybe my cowgirl dreams have finally come true. Because now…this farmer’s daughter is working for the cowboys.…Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on March 21, 2012 at 8:30am — No Comments
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on March 12, 2012 at 8:11pm — No Comments
Reposting this in honor of International Women's Day and to welcome new readers wanting the think deeper about Invisible Children's #StopKony Campaign...Check out the great graphic from See Africa Differently at the end!
When girls are educated, healthy, and safe, their own life prospects are transformed. And importantly, they transfer those benefits to their future families and their communities. When girls have access to…
I won’t share the video that many of my fellow bloggers reacted to today. Because of its slick production value, Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign will get plenty of attention without a link from me.
I did attempt to watch the whole video, but I have to confess that I stopped when Invisible Children’s founder asks his 3-year-old to explain who the “bad guys” are and what daddy does, i.e. he goes after them. The simplistic narrative of heroes and villains – this, among other…Continue
Do you have a colleague that just won’t shut up about the fight he’s having with his sibling over their family's vacation home? Or one who dressed way too provocatively when you were on that field visit last week? What about the person who constantly blames everything that doesn’t go their way on the incapacity or corruption of “the locals”?
We have all worked with these people. Perhaps we have even been these people at times. We didn’t know any better…until we did.…Continue
1. ergh: used when in a state of disgust, confusion, frustration, or convulsion. "ergh, I just threw up all over the keyboard." "ergh, that's wrong." (from Urban Dictionary)
It’s proposal purgatory time at the aid agency where I’m currently working. And one of the joys, the inescapable joys of this time, is completing the accompanying …Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on February 26, 2012 at 10:26pm — No Comments
Re-posting this series from the early days of how-matters.org…
Adapted from: The Barefoot Collective. (2009). The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organizations and Social Change. Cape Town: Community Development Resource Association. www.barefootguide.org
In order to build authentic relationships with grassroots…