Kira Osborne, Board Member
A person of many quotes, Winston Churchill once said
“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential”
At the beginning of 2020 Project Didi had all the plans! Our newly established board were confident in our strategic direction, our Women Empowering Women trips to Nepal had received promising feedback and were gaining exciting momentum with new additions in the pipeline, and our intention for public advocacy and awareness raising was lined up.
In February I said goodbye to our partner Asha Nepal and returned to home with every intention of returning to Nepal in October to lead one of our women's trips. This now seems like a lifetime ago, when COVID-19 was still the mystery virus, when hand sanitiser was fast becoming the world’s largest commodity, and when the idea of restricting international travel let alone interstate travel was incomprehensible.
There is no denying 2020 was a year like no other. The human impact has been overwhelming. Millions have lost loved ones, stable employment is no longer just a concern for those at the bottom of the pyramid, the refuge of housing both in availability and affordability is tenuous, and according to a recent World Bank Report, 71 million people could be push back into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.
For Project Didi, the impacts of COVID-19 were most certainly felt. Group trips to Nepal brought to a screeching halt, plans for a more sustainable funding approach were put on hold, and face-to-face advocacy events transitioned to online. The impacts for our partner Asha Nepal were even more pressing and included the majority of donors withdrawing and long periods of lockdown making educational and therapeutic engagement challenging.
With the most inexplicable year ended I am left wondering how best to acknowledge the challenges and hardship of 2020 while also reflecting on the lessons it has offered and the successes that have been achieved. I recognise my reflections come from a position of privilege and I acknowledge that many of the learnings I have taken from this year have been afforded to me simply because of where I live and what I have access to.
While our plans didn’t eventuate as intended, our planning allowed us:
An opportunity to think creatively, act quickly and respond instinctively and empathically
We knew we had to pivot (word of 2020!). We're pleased to have secured a partnership with Global Development Group, allowing us to offer tax deductibility to donors, and thanks to your contributions we were able maintain our funding commitments through the challenging months of last year. Led by the needs of Asha Nepal, we also raised additional funds to support online education through our mobile phones, supported families in the community who had lost their income with COVID-19 and launched Giving Circles to encourage people to share their commitment and increase their impact.
An opportunity to connect with supporters and partners across oceans and timezones
The restrictions of COVID-19 provided an opportunity for us to to connect with supporters, donors and partners across the world through virtual events. When an Australian NGO sells a movie ticket about Nepali trafficking survivors to a supporter in Boston you know you are expanding your global network!
An opportunity to share knowledge and advocate for change with an online audience
Our network expansion extended beyond film screenings and into the world of advocacy and awareness raising. Our #SomethingforSlavery campaign in partnership with Be Slavery Free quickly landed us a meeting with Unilever to advocate for living wages for tea workers in India. Similarly, we were able to explore some of the economic and social drivers of trafficking with our partners Asha Nepal through our online Meet the Partner series.
A chance to recruit, review, rewrite and report
We’re not going to lie…the digital paperwork pile was well and truly stacked high at the beginning of 2020. An organisation run completely by volunteers means that paperwork is often grimaced at instead of lovingly embraced! However, 2020 may well go down in Project Didi history as the year of administration. In addition to recruiting 10 new volunteers and a new board member, we undertook a comprehensive review and rewrite of several of our policies aligning them to international best practice.
It is critical to emphasise that this work would never have been achieved without the hard work of our volunteers and or your continued support and generous contributions. Thank you!
If you had of asked me in February last year when I flew out of Nepal what Project Didi would achieve over the next 12 months my answer could never have matched the current outcome. I am confident that our planning gave us and will continue to provide the tools, confidence and resilience to embrace 2020 and all it had to offer.
So long 2020 ….2021 show us what you’ve got!