Accepting the Challenge

I recently came across an article about USAID’s “Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Challenge”. The challenge asks us to consider intentional and systematic practices to achieve our organization’s objectives using this CLA principle. Although this may seem like a straight forward concept it is easier said than done in the development world. In our experience, most organizations are driven by funding streams. They go from project to project scrambling between trying to achieve their missions within the confinements of donors’ priorities. For this reason, many organizations become short-sighted as they react and serve individual programs rather than integrating programs into the organization’s broader and longer-term strategy. This is one way in which organizations and their work become unsustainable over time. Unfortunately, development funding is structured in the same way military leaders described the war in Afghanistan “a one-year long war fought 16 times” instead of a war that has been fought over 16 years. This is because new military personnel get deployed every year after soldiers complete their one-year tour much like development programs end and others begin with new implementers sometimes recreating the wheel or even undermining previous efforts by not building upon already existing successes or connections with local partners. Therefore, as we try to “collaborate, learn and adapt” to fulfill our goals let’s not lose sight of our visions and the importance of building long-term relationships to become true drivers of change....

Women Supporting Women

As we’ve just celebrated 2017’s International Women’s Day, and are continuing to honor women through Women’s History Month in the United States, MainSpring would like to take a moment to recognize some of our partners around the world who have inspired us. Haneen Cultural Forum (originally the Haneen Choir) is an amazing group of women from different backgrounds across Syria who found solidarity in joining together to sing traditional Syrian songs in honor of their homeland. The choir’s founder, Ms. Raja Banout, welcomed Syrians newly arrived in Turkey with open arms, good food and song. Haneen means “nostalgia” and often as the women sing together, you see their tears but also their joy in solidarity. The choir expanded to become the Haneen Cultural Forum to bring women, men and youth together in activities that reflect their shared culture and values, despite the ongoing ravages of war. Haneen now includes a chapter in Germany where some members of the group from Turkey have since moved. For more information about Haneen, please visit them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/haneenculturalforum/ Our friends at The Kuvina Leadership Initiative are doing great work by fostering women and adolescent girls’ ability to strive for higher levels of achievement and challenge gender norms regarding their role in society. This female-led non-profit organization in Zambia is empowering women and adolescent girls by mentoring them in thought leadership, community relationship building, communication and networking, entrepreneurial skills, and wellness habits and techniques that foster positive mind sets and a sense of self-identity. Relying on a great African tradition for self-expression, the organization also uses dance as a tool to promote wellness...