Friday, February 18, 2011

Mystical Experiences about Ancestors and T-shirts

Seeing that it is almost naptime on a Holy Friday, it is only appropriate to retire to the private suite in my humble residence, pour myself a stiff one of Moroni’s best smuggled Malagasy toddy and reminisce a bit over the significant events of the past few weeks.
HRIs more regular readers may have noticed that I have kept silent lately. That has to do with my natural avoidance of taking any position that may harm this organization short to medium term (I am willing to take positions that will harm HRI long term, as long as "long-term" is defined as the time after I have retired with a comfortable pay and the negative consequences will befallen my successor). 
Like any self-respecting executive director of a cutting edge life-saving organization, I prefer to avoid taking any position that may put me at odds with the complex world of politics. Post-factum, once significant consequences are obvious for everyone to see I am ready to shout. 

I have lost very little sleep over the news from Egypt and Tunisia. Initially I was worried that the disturbances will ruin our hard-earned good relationships with local authorities (built over decades of generously funded life-saving capacity building projects implemented by HRIs affiliates). But then, when it became obvious that some sort of change is unavoidable I instructed our office in Cairo to shred all archives and be reborn as a voice of change, ready to work with whatever system will be in place once the enthusiasm is gone.

Just like old days, in "CIS" (for our younger readers, back in the day "CIS" was a donor euphemism for “former soviet countries that no-one can place on the map”).
I am more worried about ongoing stuff in Bahrain, but then our affiliation with the small Kingdom is mostly related to venues for life-saving meetings, an important but manageable matter, with several plan Bs in the region .
It is my habit to have Nathan the intern walk a few steps behind me and carrying my standard issue I-pad, ready to hand it to me discreetly should I have a need to study something.

That's exactly what i was doing (studying something on my standard issue ipad) when I felt a warm wave entering my Abercrombie & Fitch khakis (my trouser-ware of choice when at the tropics). I immediately understood what was happening - I was having a mystical experience and his most divine of incidents was caused by the following message from far away:

It was finally happening.

Ever since I took over at the helm of HRI, it has always been my ambition to re-create the genealogical tree and the map of all HRI affiliates, the details of which were forever lost in a fateful excel incident years ago (the memory, the horror, the horror). Now, after all these years a first sign that my search may be bearing fruits. While the full list of affiliates may remain impossible to re-create, I discovered the First Affiliate, The One, the Afiliate that Started it All: Noah's Ark International, NAI

I will forever be thankful to Blurred Vision International (BVI - HRIs most sinificant faith-based affiliate) and Mr. Warren (a BVI reasonably paid consultant) for pointing it all out to me. It was there all along but it is so obvious, isn't it? Mr. Noah, NAI's executive director and my professional ancestor has still many a good lesson to teach HRI affiliates. Among them, my favourite three:
  1. Always stay close to the donor, whatever happens and do everything they tell you even if it does not make any sense (imagine Mr. Noah would have ignored the donor's advice about the flood and emergency preparedness);
  2. A good disaster may be bad for some people, but if you play your cards well, it is always good for NAI and the ones close to it;
  3. Take credit even for stuff that is hard to prove; moreover, busy yourself with stuff that is hard to prove and focus on "telling the story", in a compelling, donor-approved way;
However, it is not all rosy in this business and while we're on the subject, I would like to use the opportunity to provide some constructive feedback to BVI about the mentioned Tweet. As i said, i very much appreciate experiencing the heat wave in my khakis and I remain forever thankful for the support with inferring about The First Affiliate and all, but I must point out that the reference to mosquitoes in that tweet could have been dangerous. Here is why:

  1. First of all HRI affiliates make a pretty good living off those mosquitoes, so that's quite obvious there isn't it, don't wanna ruin that;
  2. Then there is the small matter of claiming credit for donor targets. of all the animals, mosquitoes are the hardest to claim credit for, as they are not technically on the ark, right. they are more like hovering above the ark, which may not be in full compliance with donor requirements for claimable indicators; of course everyone interprets these standards to our own benefits but you don't wnat to go out there and yell about it on twitter;
The toddy is running out and the mellow afternoon sleep of the hard worker is upon me but I cannot let Nathan go with my Ipad before I mention this - I have always maintained that t-shirts are a smart way to do development. In any form. Recent events involving BVI have not only confirmed that but they have shown, for the second time, that t-shirts can also create excitement on the web, where everything worth mentioning is happening.
As far as i'm concerned, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the champs. Ask anyone in "Africa"