Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Capacity Building

Recently I read a quote on capacity building by McKinsey and Company taken from a report on Effective Capacity Building in Non-Profit Organizations. It states: ''Nonprofits have an obligation to seek new and even more effective ways of making tangible progress towards their missions and this requires building organizational capacity. All too many nonprofits, however focus on creating new programs and keeping administrative costs low instead of building the organizational capacity necessary to achieve their aspirations effectively and efficiently. This must change: both nonprofit managers and those that fund them must recognize that excellence in programmatic innovation and implementation are insufficient for nonprofits to achieve lasting results. Great programs need great organizations behind them. 

These are very sobering words for those of us who work as Christian NGOs here in Cambodia or for that matter any NGO that works in Cambodia. After all, we want to be mindful of being good steward of the financial resources we receive and yet we need to be constantly evaluating the importance of building organizational capacity to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of such programs. Here in Cambodia the needs are endless and over the 24 years of funding several programs we have observed many challenges of organizations expanding quickly at the expense of the organizational capacity. As such, we ourselves are learning much from own own project experience to establish structures that ultimately will provide a solid foundation as we expand in the future. It is not always easy as we continue to learn many lessons along the way through both the successes and failures.

Like many organizations here, Ratanak is always looking at ways to expand the capacity of our staff. Given the important and significant role they play in our organization's capacity, we have been evaluating ways to invest in their giftings, and enhance their abilities and their skills as part of empowering them but also, as part of raising the capacity of our organization. So over the last few months, some of our staff have participated in different trainings.

Our counselor Soklin has attended a 3  month Systematic Counselling course where participants were thought how to use creative activities in order to gain information on a client's background, thoughts and feelings on her life story. These activities were thought through role play and over a 6 month period our counselor received ongoing supervision and coaching as she implemented these activities. We have seen her grow from this experience in her abilities in the way she deals with client issues and finds ways to build bridges with our clients.
Chab Dai leadership Retreat

As well, recently one our partners --the Chab Dai Coalition had a leadership retreat for Khmer staff so we sent out two senior managers to this training. Not only did they learn about managing stress in their own lives but also how to cultivate healthy habits in the midst of stressful environments. Again, they came away from these meetings feeling energized, rested and with additional tools equipped to do the work they have been called to.
Peace Bridges Training

Over this past month, two other staff have been attending a Peace Bridges course which provides training over a 3 month period. The purpose of this course is to help our staff engage in conflict in creative and constructive ways. This is not easy in the Cambodian context where too often most conflict is hidden under the surface through ''saving face'' by speaking indirectly and around instead of direct. This often leads to false peace keeping as truth is hidden and not spoken and so this can easily lead to conflict, disunity and disharmony where assumptions are made and never clarified in the open. Moreover, despite the genocide being over for decades, many people continue to be impacted in their behavior and attitudes. One just has to pick up the newspapers on a daily basis to read of how an eruption of anger within the home has contributed to domestic violence in this country.  As one Khmer who took this course commented ''even I suffered much violence growing up, and I saw a lot of violence but I could not change anything with violence because violence cannot end violence.  So we are thankful for organizations like Peace Bridges who focus on training and equipping others to be deal with conflict in a biblical way.and to work through conflict management and to learn about peace education. Two of our staff: our Program Manager and one of our Social Workers is now working through this 3 month intensive Peace Bridges course. Our desire is for them not just to grow in their knowledge in this area but the next step is to implement this within our organization by training our other staff and ultimately, training the young women who live at RAP.

Such tools, we believe are valuable to enhancing our organization's capacity as we continue to invest in our most important assets --- our Khmer staff - we believe that they will be the ones that will ultimately have the greatest impact in their culture and their society as they lead the way contexualizing all they learn to make it relevant in reflecting Christian values and Christ like attitudes towards their fellow colleagues and towards the young women that we serve. Pray for our staff, so often they are overlooked in the midst of all we do but they are the ones who face multiple challenges and stresses each days at a level that we from the West can rarely appreciate and understand. Pray for God to use all these trainings to build into each of them, His truths, His ways and His life such that they will be His instruments bringing light into the darkness and hope to those who feel hopeless.

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