8th Moment: Lions, Crabs and Drivers

Lions are leftists:

In Africa I learned that lions are leftists. While on a group safari in Zimbabwe our guide taught us that if we are faced with a lion we should never stay on their front or left side because they can easily strike with their great fangs. He was emphatic that we must be always be on the right side or on the tail side. When we were finally on the field with the safari lions, I happily allowed my companions to be ahead of me! ---------------------------- My driver In Jamaica: When I had a project in Jamaica my host organization assigned to me a driver named Mr. McColluch. He was a nice middle-aged guy, and the first thing that he told me was, “You know Rowdy, you are lucky because I know every nook and corner in Jamaica”. And so, I was pleased and thanked the Lord. One time while looking for a village, we got lost. It took us time to find it with the help of guide whom we picked up along the way. On our way back to the office I asked him, “Mr. Mac, I remember you told me that you know every nook and corner of Jamaica?” Then in a sober voice he said, “Hey Rowdy, that was 25 years ago.” ---------------------------- The Crab: We had two village projects on Crab Fattening in Zamboanga Norte in Mindanao – proposed by former MILF Mujahedeens. I told one group to work well on their project because their competitor group can raise their crab so big that one arm can be split into two and one half can be used as a boat that can accommodate two people. In the other group I told them to raise their crabs bigger because their competitor had raised their crabs so big that one crab was able to feed the whole barangay for three days. I was about to tell them that it was a joke when one villager, with wide wonder in his eyes, asked me how big the was cooking pot that was used to cook the crab! ---------------------------- Getting even: Our project driver in Sri Lanka often forget that I cannot understand their language. In one of our trips he talked to me in Tamil. I asked him what he was talking about. He said, “sorry sir I forgot that you cannot understand Tamil.” Then I also talked to him in Bicol. And then he also asked me what I was talking about. I answered, Sorry Noel, “I forgot that you cannot understand Bicol.” I smiled to myself thinking that I got even. ---------------------------- Practical training in marketing: After the small school was closed in our barrio, I transferred to the town proper to continue my 4th Grade in the primary. To earn money for my allowance, I joined some boys in selling bread. Early in the mornings we went to the Chinese baker in the town proper with carton box. Then we would walk around town shouting “pay-tinapay!” (bread). after we are through, we must go back to the Chinese baker to remit our sales and get our share. When I taught marketing in my community development projects I used to explain my experience that it is the original type of the present term of “consignment,” and my trainees would understand! ---------------------------- Cremation: When my wife was still alive, I used to tell her that when I die my body must be cremated and the ashes be poured in Manila Bay behind the Mall of Asia in Manila. She said I am weird, so I explained that if they do that, they will not have problems visiting my grave during all souls day. She only seemed to relent when I said that every time, she, with the kids, can go shopping in MOA, go to the back of the mall and holler “hi Dad, how are you?” But I think she fully agreed when our youngest said, “hi Dad, these things are for reimbursement!” --------------------------- Project strategy: I use a simple and untraditional strategy in project implementation. I discuss with my team the budget for direct service delivery by area, by community project and by individual target beneficiary. I give power to my field officers to give initial approval of project proposals right during the community meetings - if the estimated budget requirement is within the cost that we have determined. But in order to show to the community the assurance of approval the field officer must call me, and even if I cannot be contacted the officer will announce to the beneficiaries that “it is OK with the boss”. Then everybody is happy! --------------------------- Problem in bureaucracy: We provide our target groups with practical tools to identify and prioritize their needs. We also provide them with guide-forms on how to design and convert their project ideas into proposals. We also provide project proposal template with boxes where they can just write the data and information that we need for approval - including our approved expense items. For local partners whom we invite to participate as assessors we provide the standard forms for project assessment. To implement the approved project proposal, we have the standard service contract or direct assistance agreement describing the roles and responsibilities of the target groups, and the amount and procedure of payment. The process is followed through a simple service delivery structure and management system managed by the project team. Unfortunately, this strategy is unacceptable to our government bureaucratic system, so we find it hard to institutionalize. ----------------------------