A few years ago, when I was working with a foundation that gives grants to organizations working with children and families affected by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, I received a report from a Zimbabwean grantee, which you can read for yourself on how-matters.org. In determining whether to give them a second small grant, aside from the original proposal and financial report, this was all I had to go on. They… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on February 25, 2011 at 12:00pm —
Three separate TED Talks
caught my eye over the last week. All encouraged me to reflect on development as a practice
and how I personally and professionally stay connected to “what is living” at a local level that is authentic and that has potential to unleash social change. No concrete answers yet of course, but how I love the questions! All videos can be viewed at: … Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on February 21, 2011 at 7:01pm —
I recently had the pleasure of "virtually" connecting with Renee Martyna and Steve Munroe of Satori Worldwide. They have a compelling story with which I think many aid workers can identify. They share it below. Continue
When we met back in 1998, we were young in more ways than one. Although we were not missionaries in the strictest sense, we were surely full of a non-sectarian but very potent form of ‘save the world’ zeal. The…
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on February 11, 2011 at 11:00am —
The task was simple; Don’t reinvent the wheel. Continue
It’s easier said than done, but this is what I attempted to do when I began working with the Community Development Resource Association (CDRA) in Cape Town to help conceptualize an online community.
At the end of last year, The Barefoot Guide that CDRA helped to produce had been downloaded over 50,000 times and has been widely lauded by people and organizations engaged in…
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on February 3, 2011 at 5:57pm —
A tweet caught my attention last weekend on a search that I follow:
“I am so tired w/ dealing w/ ‘Grassroots’ organizations here in #haiti Unfortunately grassroots=no brains +no money”
My unanswered response to this frustrated aid worker went something like this:
“Generalities of “no capacity” perpetuated about grassroots organizations does not do… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on January 28, 2011 at 7:51pm —
Poetry is a medium that helps me make meaning of my experiences, my thoughts and feelings, which is something we are called to do continuously as development practitioners. It’s a tool I often privately call upon when faced with the inevitable doubts, and triumphs, and heartaches of this work.
Inspired by Dennis Whittle’s recent post on Poetry and Development, emboldened by Saundra Schimmelpfennig… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on January 25, 2011 at 12:42am —
Harare, 2002. The word came. Cash is in the banks. The three colleagues I was standing near at the time and I quickly jumped in the car to get downtown to Standard Chartered as soon as possible.
It was my first “real job” in the development sector after graduate school. I knew enough to know how little I knew, and little else.
The conversation in the car from the office to Nelson Mandela Avenue inevitably turned to the growing inequality between our corporate aid agency… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on January 17, 2011 at 8:27pm —
How-matters.org has been rather quiet the last few weeks as I am currently in the process of moving back to my hometown of Bruning, Nebraska, U.S.A.
population 248. It’s a major transition, which I recently wrote about on… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on December 14, 2010 at 6:16pm —
One country, seven districts, seven international NGOs, five million dollars (excluding food commodity monetization), and…
How do you begin to collect, analyze and, more importantly, utilize data on 161 indicators in this scenario?
Got me. And I was the Technical Advisor on Monitoring & Evaluation for this project – ha!
What a beautiful, i.e. funded, proposal it was—concocted by the lead INGOs’ most well-respected,… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 18, 2010 at 2:00am —
Professional or amateur? Skills and experience or passion and new ideas? These are riveting questions indeed
, but I’m concerned that in the development discourse, we continue to miss a key piece.
Well-intentioned do-gooders of any sort must recognize that in the developing world, local people with that same “combustible mix of indignation and vision” that… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on November 9, 2010 at 12:28pm —
If you’re like me, you have a pile of all the reports, articles, and publications that you’re aiming to get to. And from time to time, I take pleasure in dipping in to explore the new thinking or sound practices in international development and aid effectiveness.
So I’m sharing twelve…
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 31, 2010 at 11:32pm —
What do you do when your personal experience of living and working with people in Africa is so different than what is portrayed in the western media or by many charitable organizations? Confronted with this, Duncan McNicholl
, an Engineers Without Borders Canada worker living in Malawi, decided in early 2010 to begin exploring these perceptions of poverty. He took pictures of friends and neighbors in his community as both poor and rich, and then… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 24, 2010 at 10:00pm —
"‘The system’ whereby foreign donors give handouts, and not sustainable initiatives that are drawn from the needs of the communities, is a problem.” ~R.F.M., Zimbabwe
This post is a continuation of the small series I started in August entitled “Changing the System
,” which pulls together quotations from about 150 of my former colleagues, friends, and acquaintances around the world who… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on October 11, 2010 at 12:19am —
"Hillary Clinton set to unveil initiative on clean cooking stoves
," is among this week's highlights at the Millennium Development Goals Summit. Indeed, climate change, deforestation, global health, and women’s empowerment are extremely important issues to address.
Yet, I am extremely wary of any products manufactured in the developed world that are touted,… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 22, 2010 at 11:37pm —
Excerpts from: The Barefoot Collective. (2009). The Barefoot Guide to Working with Organizations and Social Change. Cape Town: Community Development Resource Association.
You never change anything by fighting existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 17, 2010 at 10:50am —
The term “community-based” has been eroded. Just like “rights-based programming,” or “participation,” or “capacity building,” it has become over-used and thus less understood in the development sector. Unfortunately, especially within the HIV circles in which I traverse, the term “community-based” has been reduced to simply referring to the locality in which services are delivered.
Yet for me, if an organization or a project is genuinely community-based, it has much more to do with… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 13, 2010 at 11:00am —
Today I discussed the importance of developing a critical consciousness (along side a compassionate consciousness) with someone in the San Francisco Bay area who is supporting a local organization in Malawi.
But how does a person actually go about this, especially someone who may be new to international assistance? As we all know, openness to learning and seeking out advice from others with more experience is vital.
As it just so happens, this week I’ve also been compiling… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 9, 2010 at 6:30pm —
I am thrilled to cross-post a briefing from an important series on the work and findings of the Listening Project
, which began today at the Harvard Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations’ Humanitarian & Development NGOs Domain blog
Below is a briefing
of the initial… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on September 1, 2010 at 9:44pm —
Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the qualities of deeds. ~Elie Wiesel
In starting up how-matters.org, I’ve entered into a new relationship. As in all new… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 31, 2010 at 7:36pm —
The following article was adapted from Faye Dresner’s article, “Leader: First Know Thyself
.” As I read it, it occurred to me that the term leader
could easily be replaced with [aid worker
] and the message remain directly relevant. In many ways, all aid workers, whether the volunteer or director, act as leaders as we strive for the self-awareness to be…… Continue
Added by Jennifer Lentfer on August 30, 2010 at 6:00pm —