Thursday, 13 October 2011

First day at ICCO Introduction Training

What is ICCO? Who do we really work for? These are the type of questions that we had in mind when we were coming to the Introduction Training. And then, we are finally here, at the Global Office and finally putting faces to some names that we have been hearing for some time now.

This first day that we thought would be very long and maybe annoying did not go the way we
were expecting it. We met some very nice people from around the world. We all had to present our region which gave us a chance to show some of our creativity. It also highlighted the breadth and depth of ICCO. We had a good discussion of the current funding situation and future strategies based upon unique selling points. We also discussed the future structural arrangements of the ICCO alliance and the identities of KIA and ICCO.

The methodology of the world café made what could have been a boring set of presentations, an interactive exchange. A lot of information for the very first day, but a reflection of the passion and dedication of the ICCO global family.

Niania Traore, Jean Vernet and Lindora Howard-Diawara

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Making the Connections Day 6: Dutch Treat

Sunday was a different Dutch treat from the Ecumenical Community of “Het Brandpunt.” At 9am, a group of volunteers drove us (in different cars to fit the 21 individuals from various regional offices) to the said community from the PKN Guesthouse, Utrecht to Amersfoort (about 1 hour drive). We got English translations (printed and verbal from our seatmates) of the Dutch church service with a wedding to boot. We were officially welcomed through morning greetings in our national languages. A woman “elder” from the community presided over the service, and a woman pastor gave the sermon and blessed the wedding couple (not a gay pair). The children even had an active part in the “mass”. The choir had an energetic conductor and the English songs were upbeat, with an electric guitar accompaniment which made me feel like dancing. We almost missed the song called “Better Together” due to a technical glitch. It’s not only a romantic song for the wedding, I thought it’s also a good reminder for advocates (watch here).

After the ceremony, we had warm drinks (coffee and tea) while having chitchat with the community members and our individual host families for the day. I never removed my 2-layer jacket throughout the morning since the chairs felt cold on my behind (my phone apps said it was 6°C). It helped that my host family liked sweets (e.g. waffles with cherries and cream) which gave me energy until midnight. In the afternoon, I joined the 2-hour walk, laugh, reflecting in the rain with other colleagues and host families. The walk was part of the pilgrim hosted by one of the parents of the Dutch youth volunteering to Rome (during their school break) to assist the homeless and learn something invaluable in return. It was a good excuse as well as a good exercise for us beyond the conference rooms for the past week. I saw a lake full of ducks and birds I haven’t seen before. We walked through some kind of mini-forest littered with oaks, big trees and colorful plants. After which we had warm drinks and cookies to end the pilgrim in the host’s welcoming home. In between traditional Dutch food (e.g. cheese, potatoes, pudding called “bitter cookies”), our hosts also asked us about the geographic location of and weather in Manila and Bangkok. Uncannily, their daughter was like me when I was a child years ago. She has a rabbit as a pet (hers was black, I had white), and she’s allergic to milk (she was taking soya, and I grew up with soya). Her brother is part too of the volunteering youth to Rome. We had group photos to mark the different highlights of the day. Unfortunately, my host family is not into FB (facebook) but we can at least keep in touch through email and the worldwide web of volunteers.

Romina “Beng” Sta.Clara, 9 Oct 2011

Friday, 7 October 2011

Day 5 Introduction Training - Friday, October 6th, 2011

Interesting day, sessions were designed by using the World Cafè methodology.

20 minutes in different rooms with different specialists in issues such as micro finance, liaison officers, KIA International, fundraising, communication and marketing.

In the afternoon, it was time to learn about wikis, yammers, and blogs. The difference between the three, and the purpose of each one. The system is not perfect, but it is useful. It can be used for note taking, for agenda setting, informing about changes, and sharing institucional issues, without having to send an email.

A relevant question is how can wikis improve my time management without being an extra burden to our heavy, office workload?

What sort of stimulation do I get from ICCO from using these wikis?

Wikis can be useful by the communications department in keeping us informed about changes, news, prizes, deadlines, fundraising opportunities, tools, information that the RO needs to know. The wikis could also be used so that partners can have a direct communication channel with us, and letting us know about results, sending pictures, etc.

The idea of creating a focal point in the regions for PME is also applicable for lobbying and advocacy, private sector collaboration.

Finally, it was clear that ICCO will start making large efforts to not only communicate more efficiently, but also it is also struggling to find new ways of doing things, and maximize funding, time and resources with the regions. It is also time to get out of any confort zone that we might be in, propose good ideas in a co-responsible way, and row hard, because the storms might come hard, and we´re all in the same boat!

Caroline, Desta, and Gorge (Kuki).

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Making the connections

The third day of the introduction training differed completely from what we had done in the first two days. If on Monday and Tuesday we talked about program directions and framework, within which we are working (values, mission, the future of ICCO Alliance etc.), today the training was more about practical knowledge.

In the first part of the day POs/RFOs were dealing with Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (PMEL) issues. I was glad to notice that despite the weather getting substantially worse, the participants were active and interested. The session represented a great example of interactive learning.

There were many ideas and issues brought up at the session. But I would like to mention only one, which is crucial for the success of what ICCO has been doing. And the idea is that everything we do, we do for the beneficiaries. So, it is important not to get trapped in bureaucracy and donor requirements, but always keep in mind that a project should benefit the target groups, therefore they should be active at all project cycle stages. All projects should be planned, monitored and evaluated together with the beneficiaries. I hope we all will not forget about this idea while doing our work!

Elena Zakirova, Regional Funding Officer

ICCO Introduction Training: Making the Connections (Day 3)

ROSEA also tagged as the “Bali Gang” volunteered to help in the morning recap, contribute to the blog and the animation/icebreakers for the Wednesday session. Other colleagues from other ROs also volunteered to take part in the said tasks. We agreed to share the recap tasks with Ivanova, Desta, and Emmanuel. The day started with participatory and innovative recaps from the geographic regions corresponding to new lessons, ambiguities and questions, as well as content or process suggestions.

For the animation, we planned and agreed with Elena and Jean to have our energizer on the second half of the afternoon. As the sunny weather changed to darker and colder Utrecht today, realities changed our plans. FOs had separate sessions from the POs, in the morning and afternoon.

So what else is remarkable for the day according to the Bali Gang?

“Dynamics is good for projects. New Dynamics is even better! “

”It is clear for me now that there is no summing up of target indicators across ROs, instead contextualized indicators are used.”

“Dynamics is not dynamic in a way. However, it is important to support our projects. And there is still space in which we can contextualize it. But there is a need for special treatment of Emergency projects.”

”It is good to know that we can give inputs to Dynamics to help us in dealing with our practical work as well as longer term mission and vision. I am impressed with the chance to meet our colleagues in the GO, those who help us process payments and budgets.”

“The principles are clear; the tools for monitoring progress and using them for learning and results-orientation need to be strengthened. More time for PMEL please.”

“We did not have time to do the energizers. We can still do it tomorrow, if needed.”

It’s been a long day but enthusiasm remains high!

From Beng, Heny, Hien, Melva, Yuni
5 October 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Monday Introduction Course Session: Making the Connections

As someone relatively new in ICCO (3 months and counting), I would describe the first day of our Introduction Course with two words, change and challenges. ICCO and its alliance have its own theory of change as well as its programmatic approach to structural causes of poverty and injustice. One weird moment for me was the afternoon session where all the presenters except for one, are men. I noticed though that women are the ones leading the course (facilitation, logistics), and there are more women participants.

Anyways, change happens at so many levels and with so many stakeholders. It is good that despite jet lags and lack of individual familiarity, we had the opportunity to immediately look into the key challenges (dwindling money for fair and sustainable development and changing roles brought by these challenges) for the institution and meet the people working within or around these issues. In terms of process, our session combined short inputs, time for reflections, and co-responsibility (e.g. volunteers for the week to make the learning process lively, creative and useful for everyone). The use of the elevator pitch (7 minute inputs on different topics) and the world café method is both useful (as introduction) and limiting at the same time.

With a mixed audience from the regions performing different duties, everyone’s interests (mostly questions) have to be given space. And that would mean more follow up discussions and deeper reflections to make the real connections in the next six days. Hopefully, with such iterative process, we can collectively make a bigger dent against poverty and injustice.

Romina "Beng" D. Sta.Clara