Vineeta Gupta, of the Global Fund for Children, was in the region for a brief visit, checking up on various programmes, so we made a day’s visit to show her the progress we’ve made at Chiraddikulam. I must say, though, that going all the way there and coming back within the space of a day was singularly painful. It must have been much more so for the driver, and I don’t think we will attempt that again!
We were a little behind schedule – somehow it took a really long time to get to Vavuniya town, which is where we were supposed to meet her. Everything became a bit rushed from there. We had just enough time to show her the children’s playground, the community centre with newly installed solar lighting (indoor and outdoor, as well as a streetlamp), have her meet briefly with the community, and take a few pictures. Unfortuantely, she didn’t even have enough time to stay for lunch, since she had to rush back to Trincomalee.
While the visit itself was uneventful, I think it was perhaps the discussion she had with CI members while travelling in the van (the roads were far too bumpy for her rented car) that merit blogging about. GFC is perhaps the opposite of CI – highly focused on one issue, while CI is more ad hoc and informal, with people from varied fields pooling their resources. While it creates for certain difficulties (CI work is often the less important, non-bread-and-butter work, leading to delays) the fact that CI has such a variety of people at its helm is its strength. It means we don’t document our projects very well, and certainly struggle with filling GFC’s reports with its expectations of precise, quantitative answers. At the same, time, though, it means we have “in-house” architects, lawyers, and writers. It’s an experiment, of course, and so far it’s been a relatively successful one – ordinary citizens who hold other daytime occupations can make a significant and sustained difference if they have the diligence, discipline and drive. While Vineeta started the conversation wanting to know about why CI wasn’t a more formal organisation, I think by the end she began to see the positive aspects of having a more informal group. I think, at the end of the day, both can work equally well. It just depends on the people.