5 Steps to NGO Success - Part 2: Listen and Learn
Anyone who has ever watched an old movie channel has probably come across one of the 17 Johnny Weismuller Tarzan movies, featuring a slew of scenes featuring the "White Ape" in battle with lions, gorillas, and alligators. Usually natives of the jungle are depicted as simple, and uneducated, and the white business men are cold and evil. But one other depiction is that of the explorers and clergy, bringing hope, education, and enlightenment to the continent. They are the good guys, often protected by Tarzan, and usually featuring at least one beautiful damsel in distress.
PART 2: LISTEN & LEARN
Today the world changed, women are not a much victims as leaders, and animals are protected for their beauty and place in nature, rather than the stuff of trophies. The world has taken on a more realistic view of volunteerism in other countries, as well. As many well-meaning Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have learned, volunteers cannot simply march into countries in need of aid and automatically solve all the issues at hand.
As NGO expert Ryan Libre states at Matador.com:
Local knowledge is indispensable to every NGO. Even if you grew up in the city where you want to start an NGO, you still need to research and make contacts. Making solid local contacts and understanding the locals’ worldview is especially important if you want to work in a foreign culture.
Libre should know. Ryan Libre is a photojournalist based in Japan and Thailand who started his own NGO, Documentary Arts, Asia, advancing visual literacy in Asia.
Libre believes that only by understanding the needs and limitations of the area you are helping, can you really understand the needs of those you wish to help. Otherwise you may do more harm than good.
About Ryan Coleman
Ryan Coleman is the VP of Sales at Zerion and works directly with enterprise deployments around the world. A former resident of San Diego, California, Ryan enjoys sunsets and photographing the coast. If you have any questions about improving your business processes, he would love to hear from you!