There is funding…”

There is funding…”

The funding is there…”

There is funding…”

If I got a qirsh for every time I’ve heard this statement in the few years I would be rich by now. There is money being thrown at the MENA region left right and center and Jordan gets its fair share. Whatever the project may be, if it falls under a sexy topic, you will get the money. But I have issue with the idea of what is or isn’t sexy. I have issue with being pushed into working on a project because the funding is there. What is so urgent that it has to be done now? Who dictates that agenda?

I am working with a few groups of volunteers working to better the lives of their communities. Each group has its own working or fund raising model, these include membership fees, donations, sponsorship, or international funding or combinations and mixes of all the above.

With each one there are pros and cons of course. There are set structures, set fees, targets for fund raising or specific designated amounts that need to be spent. But in looking at these models the one I am most uncomfortable with is when money is designated with a preset agenda and the people working have to shift gears to meet that agenda.

This, to me, is a top down approach that disrupts the natural flow of growth, ideas, creativity and may or may not address the needs of whomever the carrot is dangled in front of as temptation or bait. I am not saying we need to shun all monies and development aid. But what I am saying is I am more comfortable with a bottom up approach. If it takes us an extra 6 months for us to come up with the same idea, so be it! Why the urgency?

Let us build the proposals and requests for funding, the learning process within that is so valuable. Just sitting down and thinking about what it is we need, want and then being able to verbalize it, formulate it and present it is integral to the success of any endeavor. But when we are told this is the project, this is the idea this is what we want done with them money then aren’t we just stooges?

If we just continue to be reactionary to the carrot and only see the carrot on the stick in front of us how can we steer our own course? How are we making decisions and choose which road to follow? If we want to even follow a road at that? I believe it is important for us, as recipients of aid, to think deeply about the strings that are attached to the aid that is thrown our way. No matter how well meaning it is and how endearing it is to us. We should also make sure that we are not selling ourselves short by reacting rather than being proactive about our needs. We should be putting the sex in sexy, in our own terms, in our definitions, at our own pace, without being pushed into directions that seem full of sex but may or not be sexy for us.

Let us work this process bottom up, and we can get creative about funding. Like I told a friend of mine the other night in reference to this mega project of his. He was dismayed as he spoke of his dream since it would cost phenomenal amounts of money to execute and build from scratch. “You don’t have to do it all from scratch, there are many ways to collaborate locally and make it happen.” We can be creative and find the resources around us if given the space and time to look at our needs bottom up utilizing what we have rather than what is being handed down to us in ready made projects that just need execution.

Just look at the Jabal Al Qalaa kids I work with, they are very resourceful in building and making their own toys and entertainment. What would happen if someone came and told them here is JD 5 and this is how and what you will spend it on when making your toys! I want to make my own toys and I don’t want to be told this is how and how much to spend, I want freedom to play… wanna play with me?