Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/Project approved!
“The project has been approved. Congratulation! Please come to Rome as soon as possible to finalize the contractual agreements.”
That was a very It short e-mail . But explosive!
It was 10 months before I had prepared my project proposal , and I had almost forgotten about it. And I did not follow the normal procedures of preparing projects by writing what you think your proposal evaluators will like. Nor I considered the applicant organizations history, vision, mission etc etcetera. In fact I was tired of working for organizations and I was very tired of trying to conform to any kind of expected conformity. Armadilla was a small organization, in quite a bad financial situation, somehow struggling to remain alive. They did not have the money to pay a project designer. When I offered them to write a project for them for free and then work in it if the project was approved they had all the interest to say yes. Let’s give a try. So I did not receive any payment for the preparation of the project, and then no interference of what I should write. I think they sent it without even an accurate reading of it! They just singed it. And send it. They must have been really surprised to receive in writing from the European Commission that a 400.000 EUR project was approved! No wander they wanted now me in Rome and try to know from me what is exactly the project about! And how can we now implement it.
So I was not diplomatic in the project. I just wrote what I really wanted to do. I did not try to please the ego of anyone; not I tried to conform to the politically correct style; I just wrote what I thought it was really useful to do. I had been bold, but not really courageous. I do not deserve that honor. It is just that I was bored! I was not able to write it in the way I was thinking that a project like that should have been presented in order to get more chances to get approved. That was too complicated; and too boring. A story was not coming out of that conformity to projected expectations. …. So I had no way out. I could only write what I felt would have been a good project to do. So I enjoyed writing it. I wrote for myself! Then I sent it to Armadilla. They had no time and no resources to revise it. They forwarded it to the EU Commission. And then we all forgot about it. Armadilla was a to small an organization and was competing with the big EU players!
So what a surprise to receive that e-mail! The project approved ! Waw ! Really ! Waw !
In a sense the good news was that the money was available. For the next two years I would have had a job! And a job I really wanted to do! (Well , unless unsolvable problems arise! And problems will arise!).
But in another sense the good news was another. It was the good news that it is possible to approach a public institution with an idea; and get the resources for the idea, without political support. So it was the good news that somehow the public institutions somewhere are working with honesty and sincerity! That usual mistrust in institutions is not fully justified. That was a good news that was giving a new sense of hope!
And the good news what that by non conforming to the projected expectations of the judges it had been possible to win a competitive game! That was really a good news because it had so many implications for my life. It was an injection of courage. It was a defeat for the justifications for depression and mistrust. When I received the mail I was trying to make a bit of philosophy about it. So it is better not to try to please in order to please? Is then writing a project something like courting a woman? That you get better results if you do not try to please her, but just present your honest side, and let her say if that suite her or not? Should writing a project be considered more as writing a poem?
But then what about media …. Isn’t the media the fear of stereotypes? If I make a documentary out of what needs to be said and not out of what newsmakers think that people want to listen … would then I have any chance of selling it?
Well, some philosophizing about the good news of the project approval would have been necessary. But I could not do much of it. The organizational and logistic implication of that mail were too big. I was in Freetown when I had received the unexpected mail. I had just found a nice small house on the quite beach of the ocean, only 1 hour drive from Freetown. And paid in advance 2 years of rent. A lovely place for reading, writing, swimming and learn about the good side of African life. I had just find new friends after long time of not finding new friends (and fighting with old ones). And I was finally staying with Vrinda, who had finally got a job in a place where I could also stay (and not in war turned Afghanistan or in the heat and noise spinning Varanasi). Yes, indeed, I was a little bored also there. (Apparently no big challenge … expect reading and do physical work out …. and the usual challenge of loving your loved one). But is was not bad at all! I had been complaining to Vrinda that she was busy with her glamorous job .... while I was lest at home ... with nothing much to do. But after all she was with me in the night. And when I wanted to be alone I had my refuge on the vast beautiful lonely beach. Returning to Rome? Where will I stay?
“Dear Vincenzo, indeed that’s a great news! Congratulation also to you and the whole team that make the presentation of this project possible. I will come to Rome next week. Our new journey has started. Let’s hope for the best.“
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