Halfway point

We have completed the three days of work with 9 NGOs that our project is working with. It is part of a longer process that should arrive at 6 strong NGOs towards the end of the project. Although it may not seem so, it is a big undertaking because each NGO is a complex organism where cultural, intellectual, social-political-economic, financial and leadership personality dynamics come into play.  Just telling them ‘improve this or that!’’ may not make much of a difference.

We are addressing some of these complex challenges with technical assistance, training in a variety of subjects, coaching and competition for grants. I am observing the various groups and can already see which ones have the engagement that will make them more likely to come out of this process victorious, and those that will not. Right now I am only observing the leaders (executive directors and chairmen of the boards) and know little about the rest of the organization.

Yesterday afternoon they discussed resilience – looking at children, families, communities and organizations. Based on their observations they created a local theory of resilience that contains the following elements: spirituality, social milieu, personal characteristics and open-mindedness. When I look at those and compare the groups in the room, I can already see resilience.

We also talked a lot about vision and explored their own personal ones and created one out of clay for the support network they are in the process of creating. I got to read my favorite quote about vision which I have translated in French, that tells people to hitch themselves to something big and important and start because they will find that Providence will walk with them (a combination of Murray and von Goethe).

I can sleep in tomorrow although I probably wake up at 5:30 as I do every day, no matter where in the world I am. I have a quiet day – some design work and a work day that ends at 2 PM. I am not expected in the office until 9:30 AM. This means I can relax now and can go to bed before 9 PM.

3 Responses to “Halfway point”


  1. 1 Carol Sawyer September 18, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Sylvia, please share your favorite quotation, in English!

    Carol Sawyer, Univ of La Verne: csawyer527@gmail.com

  2. 2 svriesendorp September 19, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Here is the quote: Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

    I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
    Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

    According to Wikipedia: The “Goethe couplet” referred to here is from an extremely loose translation of Goethe’s Faust lines 214-30 made by John Anster in 1835.

    • 3 svriesendorp September 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      I always use as an example of this quote – hence it is so powerful – the coincidences or synchronicities that happen once you have made a commitment so something: the chance encounter with exactly the kind of person you need, the library book that falls off the shelf on your head and contains exactly what you needed to read. People, everywhere in the world, have always shaken their heads in recognition so it seems truly a universal phenomenon – leading me to another quote: Advocatus atque non deus aderit which means, loosely “Whether or not you ask for Him, God is present.” Allegedly Erasmus said this first. Carl Jung had this inscribed over his doorway and on his tomb.


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