Focus on issues and results instead of money

Aid agencies and their implementing partners are failing to achieve the objectives of their projects because they have strong procedures and guidelines on money and little attention to managing results as well addressing issues leading to success of their projects. This finding is unique, less expensive but gives you all the facts because the more successful you are with money, the harder it is to imagine what it would be the opposite. Developmentally, it discomforts but requires your effort again. In Africa or elsewhere, much money have been donated to nonprofit sectors which was claimed to improve on the educational system. However, the credibility of what needs to happen, how it needs to happen and when it needs to happen was not appropriate.Education Photo

A time for firsts.

“That is one of the reasons why I like to hang out with you: through you I get to live many firsts again.”

Alex told me this as we were lying on our backs after doing my first snow angel. I was listening to him as I had my eyes fixed on the grey sky, mesmerized by the snowflakes falling gently on my face. I could hear a soundtrack running in the back on my head. That is one of the moments where I can earnestly say I experienced an overwhelming sense of awe. The world was new again, if only for a couple of minutes.

A reflection of important lessons learned during my fellowship.

St. Augustine is famous for saying that ‘the World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.’ His sentiments have proved true time and time again especially as I reflect back on an individual level on what has been almost 12  months of my Atlas Corps fellowship experience.

“We have the right to eat”

I was sitting on a plane. That part is for sure. I am trying hard to remember the exact words that I was reading during the flight from Sydney to Singapore exactly two years ago. They elude me and I predict they will continue to do so for the rest of the night, so I will cease to attempt to remember that preface to a chapter in my Spanish copy of the “The Book of Five Rings” by Miyamoto Musashi, which is comfortably sitting inside a cardboard box in a basement in Monterrey, Mexico. But the reason I was painstakingly trying (and failing) to remember the exact phrasing is that it somehow comes back to me when thinking about what I experienced two weeks ago. I do not think these two events have a logical connection, but I can tell that in a deep level of my subconsciousness these two events, set apart by two years time and half a world of distance, are intimately close.

(You are not alone)

Chiedza means “light”. We sat at the restaurant after a long walk and little after reading “Four score and many years ago…” engraved on the wall. “Guys, do you know what’s for dessert?” said one of my new friends who had just came back to the table with information to share. She inserted a perfectly timed dramatic pause. “Rice pudding!!” she interjected with a delight I have rarely seen. It was May the 6th, I had already been away from home for 11 days, and I had just witnessed a person completely light a room. I had never seen anyone shine so bright. I invite you to take a look at Chiedza Gadzirayi’s blog. You will see why her name is so appropriate.

Diplomatic Avocados

During a recent event at a foreign Embassy in DC I met one of the most interesting cultural ambassadors I have ever had the pleasure of encountering; charming, accessible, and full of local flavor. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce, the Mexican Avocado! I can assure you, this is not a joke. As we were waiting in the Embassy lobby we saw crate after crate of avocados leave the building. Naturally, my colleagues and I had to ask our host about it.

Take 2 on the #selfie trend

Just when we thought the Internet was over Ellen’s “best selfie ever”, NASA introduces the #globalselfie (Will the madness ever end? Does it have to end?).

Just for the sake of it, here is my bit for #EarthDay #GlobalSelfie

In celebration of earth day (April 22) NASA prompted us all to take a selfie and post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie. The bonus? NASA* will use the individual pictures tagged to create a mosaic image of Earth built bit by bit with selfies (talk about taking the trend to the next level!).  There were selfies of people in landmarks and beautiful sunrises, but there were also people in bathroom stalls and other less than flattering pictures.  So why do we do it?  Has the need to have a social media imprint won over the need for privacy?

Meet Atlas Corps Class 13! (Grows Network to 200+)

Today, we announce the largest class of Atlas Corps Fellows EVER – Atlas Corps Class 13 and celebrate the achievement of 200 Fellows! In fact, Atlas Corps is now 206 Fellows from 54 countries and 109 Host Organizations. Awesome! Beyond the dynamic Host Organizations that will welcome these Fellows, we also recognize the additional support received from American Express, Humanity United, U.S. State Department Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, U.S. Embassy Pakistan, and the TOMODACHI Initiative. Thank you for helping us recruit, place, and engage these Fellows! Atlas Corps is truly a collaboration of inspiring individuals and organizations. Now, let’s give a warm Atlas Corps Welcome to Class 13. Thanks!

American Express Announces Three-Year Partnership to Support

Atlas Corps and American Express

In 2011, Atlas Corps and Anna Flores (American Express) celebrated achieving our “50 in the 50th” goal with support from the American Express Foundation.

Yes, the headline is true! The American Express Foundation just announced a three-year partnership to support the expansion of Atlas Corps.

In 2011, the American Express Foundation helped double the size of Atlas Corps as we achieved our goal of 50 in the 50th—to engage 50 nonprofit leaders as Atlas Corps Fellows in the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps and our 5th Anniversary. Now, in 2012, we take that partnership to the next level as we initiate Vision 2015—a three-year scaling strategy to expand our program to engage 100 Fellows per year. The American Express Foundation will support Vision 2015 with a three-year, $150,000 commitment that will support the expansion and enhancement of the Atlas Corps model.

Are You a Policy Enthusiast?

Calling all young researchers! If you’re interested in increasing the visibility of youth’s voice in your country’s policy-making process, don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

CIPE and Atlas Corps invites young researchers interested in democratic and or economic reform issues to become Think Tank LINKS Fellows and gain useful tools and leadership skills to increase their advocacy skills. Find out more about the Think Tank LINKS Fellowship here.

Time is running out – the deadline for submitting application is August 15, 2012. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply!