In a previous post I shared the 10 lessons I have learned as a community development worker and one of those lessons was Transparency. In this post I would like to explore the importance of transparency in the management of community based organisations.
Globalisation and Transparency
Our community project in Ruhanga SW Uganda relies on individual donations and the people that donate that money trust that we will use it for the purpose for which it has been given. Trust plays a big role in this relationship and this means that we have to be transparent in everything that we do.
But transparency in the management of community based organisations is important for an unusual reason- globalisation. Globalisation shrinks time and space between national boundaries. Fro community based organisations, this means that anyone can drop by to see what is going on.
As I explained in this post, four years ago now we were selected as the overseas community that Hastoe Housing Association would befriend. Within that time, Hastoe joined us in our fundraising efforts for clean water, the village medical centre and the bike shed . They did so without ever setting a foot in Ruhanga, but all that changed in July 2014 when seven members of Hastoe Housing Association staff and their families hit the road to Ruhanga to see for themselves the progress of their input. Here is how they got on.
Travelling to and helping at the Uganda Lodge was amazing! It is difficult to put into words how best to describe our time in Uganda but some words would include surprising, gorgeous, green, dusty, welcoming, fascinating, rewarding and so full of beautiful people that we will never forget our time there.
We travelled as a group of seven staff from Hastoe Housing Association plus five family members, with an objective to paint the rooms in the first skills workshop building for bicycle maintenance and sewing rooms. We quickly adjusted to the slightly haphazard way things sometimes are in Africa, improvised with the equipment available and worked together as a team. It took several days and many cans of paint but it was so rewarding when we finished and saw the building one step closer to being used.
We felt we had really achieved something but during our time in Uganda we also learned and discovered so much more. We saw how much work was being done to improve life in Uganda and gradually appreciated what a huge impact Denis, the Lodge and the projects have already had on local people. You hear what difference a water tap or a school makes but seeing people access running water and watching children learning in and loving school helped us appreciate that so much more. We also saw how thin the line is between helping and imposing, and how well that has been managed in Ruhanga. And we discovered how much fun can be had in an evening with a group of strangers swinging in a hammock or sat around a log fire!
Most importantly, it has shown us that we can all make a difference; it might be a small gift from each of us individually, but collectively, with all the other donations and time given by volunteers and workers over the years, we have created opportunities and new possibilities for the people around Ruhanga that are changing their lives.
Technology and Transparency in the management of community based organisations
I love the possibilities that new technologies have created. It much easier for me to share my work. I have also made friends online and those friends are very important in the funding of the work I do in Uganda.
Technology also means that there is no where to hide. The people that visit community development projects can report their findings online for everyone to see and organisations often do not have control over this kind of reporting.
Equally, when we as community development workers use modern technologies to raise money online, the communities in which we work can see this and can challenge us if we misappropriate that money. The community can also see what we say about them on online platforms such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter and challenge that too.
Remember KONY2012? Invisible Children told the world that there was a war in Northern Uganda and wanted their supporters to lobby their governments to taken action against this notorious warlord.
What they didn’t count on, was that folk in Uganda were watching and willing to take the microphone to tell their own story and the fall out from that was immeasurable
So as you can see folks, there is really no where to hide.