非主流台灣:最新公告

Welcome to the 2010 Guerilla Girls Blog! We are the Guerilla Girls! We are 13 Hao Ran Foundation volunteers (all females!) and we will soon get to deploy our wings in different countries of the world to work with various non-governmental organizations and social movements as a way to reinforce social justice and solidarity. We wish to open communication and share our experience with the rest of the world, because we strongly believe that ‘ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE!’ Read More

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2011年12月3日 星期六

Nov-Report:Forward to the beginning of the end


Huei-Jen Lin

November is the last month for me staying in Zigen, and officially there were in fact only two weeks left. As being involving with the village work in Hebei Qinglong over than six months and being getting into those circumstances within the social issues of urban-rural divide for nearly one year, I suddenly realize that time is far from enough to accomplish something which the work I feel just being started. Thus within these two weeks (from the last third part of October) I arranged a pretty tight schedule and got a big pressure of thinking that how to give all these tasks a short ending. My director and colleagues can therefore take over these cases easily.




It never ends if you think in this way—project thinking vs. thinking of empowerment

As mentioned before, my main task in villages for six months was doing pre-investigation and project design and implementing. There were about three main projects I was working on: trying to establish and develop a women handcrafted group in Hua Guo Shan village , to develop school courses with home resource in Hua Guo Shan school, and organizing thematic courses which input living education onto the normal subjects as a base of education reform in order to influence teachers of MaZhangZi school.

Comparing to all the projects that the Qinglong director Mr. Li has to handle, these three projects are not much but been treated as the important experiments. I appreciated that Mr. Li confidently let me to try it, and meanwhile I felt that we have common goal that he turns his concern from “aid” to “support” people. Thus although each project has been designed to display its concrete outcome in terms of the evaluated result target, the project itself should be done in time but the work of doing on people must be operated for a long-term period. In the office, a colleague had doubted that such kind of project design like to organize women for being a handcrafted group or to cooperate teaching in order to influence village teachers which is inefficient. He doubted that Zigen spent much money and even set a working staff into villages for months but just for accomplishing such small projects. Isn't it inefficient and even more risky if the working staff can't stand in village so long? He thought that project design should be more practical and easily implemented, for example in regarding to the above cases, to fund the village women who have problem for running business or to give a training for village teachers so that to influence them directly. Moreover, the founding should be distributed to people who have problem for the basic need but not for the unstable work of group-capacity building and expecting them to develop the villages.

What his query is actually touching with several layers of questions in regarding to working strategies and thoughts: what specific target is Zigen's funding oriented for? need based substance or capacity? What does it mean the “basic need”? Which kind of strategic thinking does Zigen tend to operate? project thinking or the thinking of empowerment? And in this case, what is the main idea of empowerment behind ? Likewise, what role of Zigen workers can take part in and how long they can stand for it?

Zigen in transitioning: from “aid” and “charity” oriented to “development” and “advocacy” oriented

On the occasion of Zigen's annul convention in 2010, the founder had not only once talked that Zigen has necessary to be reformed: the organization which locates in China has to be stronger and should have ability to solicit for funds by itself . The main reason is that the main donor of Chinese Zigen, American Zigen foundation, may turn its concern from China to Africa or Middle America since the China's economy is getting well developing. Apart from this, the problem that Zigen face nowadays about the social and welfare development inside of China has been processed complicated and different from those days of facing problems of starvation. By being walking for twenty years, Zigen should be aware to change its role in the rural development of China and to adjust its strategy for better and independently operating the fundings. Thus, in the past, most of Zigen's cases were operated by means of projects, so the working staffs could just stay in Beijing or outside of China and remote controlled the correspondents in villages for the concrete project implementing. Also, at that time, the projects are more about supply of basic substances, like funding to children with scholarship, school desks and chairs, well, toilet and heating..etc. As the organization was established in Beijing in 2005 and the suboffices sequentially were built up too in the counties where projects were in process, the content of projects had been more developed diversely. Several independent projects have been coming out, like the project of promoting reading and the project of teacher training (RTT: Research Teacher Training) in which those are independently donated by the different big donors from HongKong and Taiwan. Moreover, some several hardware projects for villages are getting integrated into a project group called “One school one village” in order to combine the school and village building work for a better development.

By observing the transition of the contents of projects, it shows that the Zigen is turning its focus from the supply of substance to the capacity building, which is also much close to what Zigen originally aims: development based in human centered and in sustainability. Therefore, though all the works are still in processing by means of projects implementing, the projects themselves have been starting with the community work and capacity building, and the time-limit of projects are setting longer. For example, the Zigen's establishment of migrant worker community center is actually a big and long-term project. The Zigen staffs there operate it by means of community and social work.

Heard from the founder Ms. Pat Yang said, what she now is really willing to do is to work out some models of rural development or of migrant worker community in cities by addressing to the social issues and meanwhile work on the related research reports that could be the references to the government and the advocacy to the social public. Addressing to the issue against the governmental policy of “merging village schools” is the actual case which has been present in recent years.

Project thinking vs. thinking of empowerment
Regarding to the query of this colleague, we had a rather long discussion together with the director Mr. Li in the Qinglong office. Mr. Li pointed out that this is the difference between project thinking and the thinking of empower people. How this colleague had this kind of query was just because he perceived the village work in perspective of project thinking. With project thinking behind, you will design that what kind of project could efficiently solve the problems that people have and directly give the help to people's need. Then spending the less time and the less cost to realize the best accomplishment will be the priority to be taken into account. However, Mr. Li reaffirmed that what his main concern is working on people, not on the project. For him, the project is just like an instrument, which promotes the job on organizing people much easier and contributes to the job itself. It is much important to work on people that to do education for people to have common knowledges about issues of environment, women, health care and schooling which can contribute to themselves and to the development of villages. Likewise, it's also important to organize people for the community or group work in order to foster people's public sense and sense of action to their living life. This is how he thought about the empowerment. People need to be empowered and their capacities need to be discovered and developed, so the villages they live would be much possible to be build up but not to be aid.

With five-year working experiences in Zigen, Mr. Li talked about how many projects which had implemented to villages had indeed improved the villagers' living environment, but were always repeatedly aid year by year without much sustainable development. However, the real contribution was the case of cooperation business of Da-Sen Dian village. This case was that Zigen supported for five years and made people organize themselves as a team in dealing with the technical development of fruit farm and also established the collective cooperation for running the business of fruit products. After Zigen withdrew it, the villagers still can run the cooperation well so far. This relatively successful case gave him confidence to believe the importance of empowerment work.

However, comparing to working on the things, working on people is not an easy job. Indeed, it took longer time and much cost (especially for working staff's time and effort) if you work on projects with the thinking of empowerment, not with project thinking. Also, it contains high risk that you couldn't be sure whether people can be organized or go the direction where you wish to. Those efforts and works couldn't be easily evaluated by the standard of project-procedure and result ed targets as well as the most international NGOs or governments use. That's also the reason why some of Mr. Li's projects are easily criticized by the other Zigen partners when the outcome of projects couldn't be clearly displayed. It needs another standard of working procedure and staged results for evaluation which will be more proper to the working way of grass-root organization.

To organize people for what? What's the strategical idea behind the “empowerment”?
All those groups or associations organized by villagers within villages of Qinglong county were promoted and supported by Mr. Li, the director of Zigen Qinglong office. Many of those groups were established by Zigen's addressing to the issue-targeted group, like the women school (group), association of elders, parents school (group), and peasant groups (technical association or cooperation of agricultural production and marketing). However, Mr. Li sometimes pours out his questions about what for? to organize people, or organizing people and then? It's because that many of these groups didn't really work out or well, except for the one cooperation in DaSenDian village.

Many of them were finally established as a result that the leaders inside of villages were discovered and with passion to stand out under the Zigen's supporting. For example, in the association of elders, they think that they lack of cultural life,so they are willing to organze some cultural events. As for the women school, they would like to run cooperation for developing business together, or to organize some entertaining activities for the festivals. However, the groups are usually scattered by each person's living reality of hardship or original living habits. Also most of leaders of the groups don't really know how to run the group and how to apply projects to Zigen's funding. It seems like those groups lack a stronger purpose of group itself that directly reaches to their urgent need from the living reality. For the most villagers at the present situation, how to survive with enough wealth for going on a better life seems to be the priority to be concerned. For the leaders who are enthusiastic on the public affairs, the capacity building of running group is the premise that they should be provided. However, without Zigen working staff of settling in villages for the long-term working with the groups, it seems not so easy to make out. Like the cooperation of DaSenDian village, it took about three years for Zigen workers cultivated there and then could be worked out.

Empowerment, is not the idealistic phrase anymore when encountering with the local reality. Deep into the power structure of villages you will find its complication and the difficulties of interference by we, the outward ideas addressing social issues or theories of capacity building. However, for a Zigen staff, if with understanding of power relations within villages, and the knowing of exerting self's role as an outsider, and with the clear mind that which direction you are going to empower people to and which context group building can reach villagers' need in reality, the work of empowerment is possible.

Every ending story is starting off another journey
The day before heading back to Beijing, I was just staying in MaZhangZi village and trying to arrange the thematic courses for teachers of 6 grade to follow up, teaching and working with students for making out a project about a self-made Ping-Pong table. Thinking back those days of staying there, it was just like to set some roles and starting a story. But to start to negotiate with teachers about my idea of making Ping-Pong table and to organize them and courses were the most difficult parts. Till now, once I remembered of these scenes, can't stop feel funny. It was always like that I was talking about my idea that how to combine the courses so that teachers in their professional can teach students what knowledges students need for making a Ping-Pong table. After listening my idea, teachers started to talk about something else. They were always discussing that they should use what kind of materials for making a Ping-Pong table which will be cheaper, and maybe to find a bricklayer which will save more trouble. Teachers were enthusiastic of making a Ping-Pong table but seemed that they were not interested in their course application. In their discussion, there was nothing being talked which was related to students. During the long process, I was trying to make all teachers understand what's my intention and what's the significance to the education reform if they want to do this. The thematic courses finally were arranged and started. The story ends a bit for my withdrawing of this role, but is going on another journey for those teachers their roles taking part in.



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