…to do this right.
I am facing a bit of a crisis on the financial front. This is nothing new. Started when I got knocked up which knocked my unstable but fiscally sound life off its tracks.
I have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to this stuff. Clearly, I am not doing my work for the money. I have been working on the Survivors’ Truths project-cum-organization-with-many-projects without pay for most of the past four years. Like a gambler waiting for that big break, I keep thinking that eventually I’ll get there, have a salary, be solvent.
A few years before my son came along, I made an intentional shift away from the fretting and obsessing I was raised to do, to give myself space to think about other things. Perhaps too much space. When I start to freak out, I tell myself ’it’s just money.’
My recent trip to Liberia brought the transience of our stability back to mind. I was reminded by the places and sights of the way my life, through a bit of a crappy choice, tilted off its axis and into a whole new orbit three and a half years ago. I was reminded by the people and the still visible scars of war on the city of the potential for outside forces to strip one of everything in an instant.
Still, even as I sat and talked with villagers from communities that had experienced massacres during the conflict, the importance of resources, of access to and control of money, matters. This was a key concern for them…and not in the ‘there’s a white person in the room so we have to ask for money’ way. I know that sensation.
In the end, it was a conversation about social justice. Because justice is when things are in balance, when people have equal and fair access–to recourse and to resources. Because of how the system was set up, these people in Liberia did not have access to either. To get the resources, you have to be a formal organization, be able to write a proposal, have paper to exercise that ability on. Believe it or not, in a post-conflict environment, that last bit can be a deal-breaker. The injustice is clear. To get resources, one must have a certain kind of capacity, regardless of what other more relevant capacities and knowledge you might have. To get that certain kind of capacity, one must have resources.
It’s not that different for a new non-profit. Yes, there are grants out there. But these grants don’t grow on trees, waiting ripe for the picking. The grants are granted by foundations, usually. These foundations look for the financial stability of the organization.
To get the grants to do the work we do we have to be funded to do that work already. It’s a catch-22.
And for me, a single mom, trying to piece it all together, it becomes clear that I need to attend to my personal resources. But my heart, my vision for this work, won’t let me give up on the possibility that, soon, before my savings are all gone, I’ll figure it out.