What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Off and Running!!!

So on Friday I got an email from Kaps in response to my questions regarding the athletics/track facility for Sierra Leone.  This is a really busy time of year for them as school is starting so it is greatly appreciated!!  They're doing good work down there...  :)

His answers really put the project into perspective and were exciting!!  They have land to build on.  They had to pay a small amount for it so the family there could live, but they have it... and they sent pictures (check them out below).  This just made it all real for me.  I must admit that through my whole upbringing and a lifetime of learning, you can't help but hear apologetic rumors of ineffectiveness in regards to Africa.  I always think of them as ways to make 'us' feel like there is little we can do - things said or read in countless academic and journalistic articles claiming Africans say and promise all sorts of things that they can't deliver..  things said that make it easier for 'us' to ignore things the less fortunate.  I try SO hard not to listen, in fact make it a point to ignore them.  But even within me there was a part deep inside of me wouldn't let go and allow myself to get too excited about the possibilities here without more concrete information.  Once I saw the pics, it became real.  I knew that not having property was an automatic disqualifier.  But we do!!  So time to get off and running!!

Just picture it.. leveled off, a smooth dirt track running around it..

So here is the information that Kaps passed on to me:
  • There are small playgrounds in the Makeni area where kids can play football/soccer, and there are three "mini-fields" for sporting events which are owned by Catholics (I am not sure the relevance of this ownership statement yet though, as nothing more was said, but it may be that it is tough for non-Catholics to use, we'll see)
  • There are Physical Education teachers with the ability to train people in athletics, but there is no encouragement, no precedence for kids to see success through, and not facilities to impress with.
  • They started a girls sport team and got many people to come out, but funding was a problem, and the government does not have much to offer in terms of support. 
  • All of the clubs are part of schools and they are not for sports, only entertainment, etc, and over once school is finishes. There are not usually costs associated with these clubs.
  • He says Child Help has the personnel to do this project but they are not really equipped to build a facility like this due to not being "financially equipped".
  • Kaps believes that they could hire the expertise for designing such a facility (this also could be assisted by Gamechangers if I have read their guidelines properly.)
  • His answer regarding the track surface was all about cost, lets do whatever we can at low cost and do the best job possible to be sustainable in inclement weather (Gamechangers may be able to help).
  • And finally, they feel they could put together this plan even given this short time frame.  
...a small set of bleachers on the far side between the trees...

Given Kaps' response, I started looking further at the Gamechangers funding guidelines and also pulled out some other proposals that had been submitted.  I haven't gotten too far into the other proposals, but I sketched in the basics for the proposal.  They ask for:
  • A Projeect Description to start with that should be 300 words or less.
  • A total project cost
  • They also allow space for a project video
  • They want to know about the organization, a description of it (Child Help SL), and their website (300 words).
  • Information about the project location right  down to latitude and longitude.
  • Contact info for the organization.
  • Project information such as the location/neighborhood and details of it (150 words)
  • They then ask three very key questions, yes or no:
    • "do facilities need to be constructed or upgraded at the project site?", if yes, then how (150 words)
    • "Does the project require further architectural/design assistance?" How? (150 words). 
    • and "Would this project benefit from the assistance of construction professionals?" How? (150 words)?
...competitors getting ready for their race...  ;)

That's all they wanted, short and to the point, with very little space for details.  This is a very good thing that lends well to our situation.  These last three questions are key, basically given that one of the two main entities sponsoring this project is Architecture for Humanity (who deal with building and design of sustainable structures) these questions could be seen as a way of asking if you need help with the design.  Given the types of organizations that are applying for these grants (they stipulate that only non-profits from within the specific country can apply - no foreign firms) they must understand that many of these organizations will not have very good access to the latest design and building practices/professionals.  This, to me, in addition to the brevity of the proposal they require means that they are not expecting completely finished project plans that are ready to be built.  It would seem that they are expecting, or at least anticipating some interest, in additional help from them to finalize a project.  This is exactly what we need.  They want a local organization to have an idea and organizational infrastructure put together so that a project like this could be done.  Then they can come in and assist in making the project happen both financially and practically.  Sounds good to me. 

There are quite a few other proposals from all over the world there though and for many different types of things.  It was always a long shot, but I will be very happy to put together a proposal for this and submit it.  At minimum it is the foundation for a project like this that could either stay as is with other funding or add additional components to garner more financial attention.  There is still a great deal of work to be done, this post just addresses Kaps' thoughts and the funding proposal guidelines.  Next time I will get into "what they are looking for" and what other proposals are trying to do to address Gamechangers' needs.  They leave you such little space though that the proposal will have to be exact and succinctly address the social wants, the competition, and our capabilities all in one little space... ;)  It is due October 6th.   


1 comment:

  1. Tim,
    I have just been introduced to your blog by Zuzi. You are really going ahead with this mad escapade it seems.
    I wish I could talk you out of it, but I know I can't. So it remains for me to wish you good luck, I know you are going to need it. If you will accept some advice from someone that has lived and worked in West Africa it is this . . Trust nobody and believe nothing you are told at face value.
    Good luck, I hope you make it back.