Friday, January 05, 2007

No deal

We knew the picture was grim; in the last few months we've been fervently hoping that a miracle would happen, that funds would finally start trickling in. But no cigar. So what else was there to do but sit down, come to terms with the bleak reality, and wrestle with the ugly job of putting in place cost-minimization programs to help stave off extinction. (Sheesh, I know these sentences are ridden with hackneyed cliches, I am just too tired today to even think).

Anyway. Our problem in our NGO is simple: money for development work in the Philippines is helplessly tied up in bureaucratic red tape, most NGOs particularly those involved in reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, women's issues, etc., are not only feeling the pinch - they are gasping for dear breath. A number of NGOs have started to lay off employees and some have actually closed shop. It is sad because there is so much money available out there for development work. One problem is that at some point in the last few years, the NGO community in the country fell into this trap of creating coalitions and mechanisms supposedly designed to help ensure a more equitable and more effective distribution and mobilization of resources so that we now have several layers between the source of funding and the NGOs.

The other problem is that on the surface, it looked like NGOs have been doing such a great job that the sense of urgency around the issues has dissipated. Now everyone seems to be taking their own sweet time - except of course the NGO workers who are not only faced with the bleak prospects of being jobless soon but also of losing the momentum that they have built up in the implementation of their respective projects.

It seems only Gawad Kalinga is the only viable social development program today. I will not argue with the noble objectives of the program - one has to be a real cynic not to acknowledge the value of providing houses to the homeless. But must all our resources go to building houses?

It's a good thing we Filipinos have a great sense of humor that we can still find something to amuse ourselves with even in the face of terrible news. So when someone, in what could only be surmised as a moment of inspired madness, suggested joining "Deal Or No Deal" as a fund raising venture, we all latched on to the idea. Oh, the possibilities; imagine what 4 million pesos could do to save our programs! So we spent considerable time turning the idea around and around - and the more we talked about it, the more the idea became attractive. Truly, there is no better motivation than desperation. Unfortunately, the discussion soon resembled a modern version of that story about mice who have decided to put on a bell on the cat - the problem is, who would do it? No one among us was willing to face Kris Aquino. And so the idea fizzled out.

Any better ideas?

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