What lessons have you learned from coping with limited resources and funding?
We have realized and put into practice the involvement of the communities in our work and goal. For example, we carry out a meri khushi (“my happiness”) residential camp every year to empower girls with life skills, computers, English speaking, and self-defense. With the limited funds, we urged communities to contribute. Because they believe in the cause and goal of Vikalp, they readily donated wheat, dal vegetables, etc. Hence, there is a need to be vocal and visible in promoting their mission and goals for more people to get motivated and provide support. Similarly, we collaborate with other NGOs, etc, so that we can pool their resources and expertise to achieve more than we could on our own.
We consistently work for fundraising to support our activities and cause. We acquire support from local donors and look for spaces that are cheaper even if they don’t fulfill all our requirements like power backup, security, etc. We have learned to be flexible and adaptable in responding to changing circumstances. We try to create impactful projects with limited resources. We also critically analyze each and every activity/event and its budget. We spend a lot of time creating budgets. We try to make activities impactful and give priority to that.
What do you believe is most important for your communities’ recovery?
For community recovery food security, health and sanitation, livelihood support, and education are some of the most critical areas that need attention. We can provide education and job training programs to help individuals acquire new skills and find employment. This can help reduce the impact of inflation on unemployment rates and provide families with a stable source of income. Another step is to build community resilience by supporting local businesses, strengthening social networks, and promoting community-led initiatives that can help individuals and families weather economic crises like inflation.
We, NGOs, can also advocate for policy change that addresses the root causes of inflation. We should ensure that communities are able to avail the benefits of the government schemes like pensions, health schemes, labor and agricultural schemes, marriage or housing schemes, free hostels, education, mid-day meals, etc. We can provide them support in building small business enterprises or enroll them in other skill-building programs.
Cambodia: PEPY Empowering Youth – Partnerships and Development team
What challenges are you facing due to inflation?
Our work is focused on some of the most rural and remote regions in Siem Reap. Therefore the success of many of our programs relies on our ability to travel long distances and bring speakers, role models, and trainers into our partner high schools. The fluctuation in gas prices has made our work increasingly difficult. Although we try to calculate inflation into our budgets, in recent years, even a 10% budget cushion has not been enough. Our funders and partners are used to providing us with a set amount and it has not been easy for them to address our needs while also trying to increase their support to other local organizations.
We have to be very careful and strategic about our events and Study Tours (where we bring rural students into the city to visit higher education institutions) to ensure that we have enough funds to continue running our programs without having to cut any key activities.