*As part of celebrating International Grant Professional’s Week (#IGPW) we are posting each day this week with something unique and a bit different to help enhance and expand our community’s perspective and understanding of the work of all our amazing colleagues. Today’s post is a great guest post by a fellow IGPW social media committee member, and also Grant Professionals Foundation board member.*
I am privileged to serve as the Development Writer for Kids Alive International, a faith-based organization rescuing orphans and vulnerable children from abuse, neglect, abandonment, and absolute poverty. We operate residential homes, schools, care centers, and community programs for over 6,000 children in 15 countries worldwide providing hope for today, dreams for tomorrow and purpose for a lifetime. Kids Alive has been serving the “least of these” for nearly 100 years.
It’s 4:00 am and your Skype ping sounds off from your laptop you left open as it searches through thousands of photos of places you’ve never personally seen. Groggily, you get up to answer the Skype call, just now realizing that the email you sent to set up the call did not indicate the time zone as Central Daylight Time instead of the now-ringing Eastern African Time. Fortunately, the Keurig is only a few steps away.
Writing and managing grants for international programs from a stateside office carries a certain set of worthwhile challenges. Whether it is navigating proper channels of government, tribal councils, or seemingly simple visa documentation, there are always parts that come across as illogical and inefficient to the American norm. What we value in having all the information placed in sequential order with clearly defined references, can be lost on those areas of the world that value relationship over process and where a four-hour phone call replaces a 28-page documented trail of evaluation.
It’s not just the logistics of communication that can be challenging but also language barriers, idiomatic expressions, and cultural relativities as well. Inquisition is the key to discovering real meaning. For instance, it is easy to place my own cultural context on field reports from around the world. Directors provide grades as part of a program evaluation, however they reflect a school year that is based on a calendar year – different implications should certainly be placed on that evaluation. Asking lots of questions, about things that seem mundane have led me to the best cultural discoveries.
This, however, is what makes all the challenges worth writing grants that take three times the amount of time, must be translated, and tell stories about kids I’ve never met. Every day, I get to be part of making an eternal difference in the lives of kids and families who have no hope, no future, and no safety net of any kind. I know I’m helping to not just change a life for a little while but transform a family for generations. And, I get to restore play to children forced to grow up way too soon. That is worth every early morning Skype call, photo library organizational stresses, and the occasional culturally embarrassing flub.
To serving more with excellence … and for all the children who get to sleep in a bed tonight, eat a warm meal or go to school for the very first time …