Many a times I have wondered why funders are reluctant to fund running costs and staff honoraria.. I always felt it was because administation costs were heavy; to my mind project why did not fit the picture, as our salaries went to the slum people and above all we were creating new job opportunities..
I got my answer when a net friend visited pwhy recently and elucidated the matter. She heads a small employee funding group within a large organisation and has been engaged in helping out development work in many countries. She told me that at the outset they had funded running costs, and even though they had been assured that it was for a limited time, they had actually found themselves doing this year after year as there was always a valid reason and one does not leave children in the lurch. She added :" they just became dependant on us".
For me it was like the dropping of the proverbial penny!
The glove fitted.. was this not what was happening to us, where many of the pwhy team were sinking into a false comfort zone, and some of us were seeking help over and over again saying that this would be the last time!
It would be untrue and unfair to say that we did not try ways to sustain our activities. Over the past years we have like many other NGOs made our share of candles, paper bags, jewels, jute bags, recycled paper copy books.. but in a saturated market we were not able to go beyond a few 'pity' sales!
We realised that unless a local market within the community was found, such efforts would not be suficient to sustain project why's activities.
We were aware that the funding solution had to be found within and that is how the one-rupee idea took seed. A quick calculation of the number of dwellings that surround us - mostly middle class homes- showed us that a simple rupee a day frome each one of them would see us through.. but then someone had to walk up the stairs and knock at doors...
The problem lies elsewhere.. we can go on harping on the lack of concern and heart of the rich around us, but we cannot close our eyes to another factor which contributes to our lack of success: I will simply call it the government job syndrome and it ails most of the slum work force.
The same people who toiled in the fields and in their homes from dawn to dusk in their villages, feel that once they reach urban lights they have earned the right to get a salary without any effort or commitment..
One of the reasons I guess that has delayed the real take off of the 0ne-rupee-a-day campaign is this passive and non-productive attitude.. there are some people who have realised the futility of such an attitude and that is why the secondary section is almost self-sustainable.. but that is not the case with all..
So what does one do, carry on bringing doses of oxygen with the dangers of having sources - however friendly and supportive - die out, or take an extreme action, just like the one a sensible parent would take with a child who has set on a wrong course.
In our situation it would be to stop all activities unless all beneficiaries - staff and parents - do their bit.. Let us say bring 50% of the ressources in cash or kind..
It is not an easy thing to do-- just as it is not easy to throw a child out in the cold to teach him how to deal with life.. but it seems more and more likely that this is the only way left..
What is left to be decided is when...