Clearly not everything is going to go smoothly in any situation, especially in a new country that you are unfamiliar with. However, I find it interesting that the biggest obstacles I have faced here did not originate from my lack of familiarity with Argentina. Most of the issues could have occurred, and do occur, anywhere in the world. These problems consist of an ambiguous job description and an unreliable team and have cost me a lot of time and a lot of frustration.
The first problem of an ambiguous job description cost me crucial time as I had to inquire about my responsibilities and then do my own assment of the needs of my organization, Inmensa Esperanza. Left without a mentor or good management, I went out and asked those in the education section of my NGO what they needed. I also looked at old records to better understand what those in the past did in my position. After I felt I had a good understanding of my organization, it’s goals and it’s needs, I needed a project and a plan of action to accomplish these goals.
The main need of my organization is funds. Ideally it needs a sustainable income of funds, but many of the immediate concerns can be solved with a little extra money. Thus, I set out to plan a fundraising event in the hopes of earning enough money to buy some material items Inmensa needs. I was feeling good about my plan to put together an event or two to fundraise, but this is where my second problem came into play.
As I already stated, a lack of management made it difficult to learn everything I needed to know about my job. It also made it extremely difficult for me and my team to work together as we had no clear leader within Inmensa. Thus, when I tried to share my ideas with the members of my team, there was no good system of execution for these plans. We had no one holding us accountable so plans and meetings would fall apart as soon as a few people failed to make it. Not only was this incredibly frustrating, it also made it aalmost impossible to get anything done.
Therefore, to overcome this and make sure our goals began to get accomplished, I did two things. First, I stepped up within my team and began leading meetings, setting schedulrs, and following up with the others. There was some resistance because in reality we are all in the same position, so technically I have no authority over anyone. But instead of shying away from their discontent, I perservered and aimed to lead as a fellow peer rather than as an authority figure.
The second thing I did was reach out to the marketing team of another NGO and ask them for team support. We worked out a partnership to plan another fundraising event together and split what was earned between our two organizations. I decided to reach out to this specific team because I had been watching them function efficiently together and felt we could both benefit from helping each other.
With all of this in place, I began helping to plan two events. My own team and I planned a bake sale where we asked local bakeries to donate the goods and then gave them to those who donated to our organization. By doing this, we raised over two thousand pesos which is equivalent to almost two hundred United States dollars. This money will be used to handle immediate concerns, like a new first aid kit and school supplies.
The other event is between the partnership with the other marketing team and it is going to be a sponsored night at a local restaurant. We are still negotiating with the various restaurants, but we asking them to donate a percentage of their profits from a specific night in return for free marketing on our social media and within the community.
It has been a long and frustrating journey, but I can now say I have found ways around my two biggest problems. I will continue to help plan new events that will happen after I leave and I hope my team can execute their goals as I finish my time here as Inmensa needs all the help I’m can get.