For Those on the Frontlines

As the financial year end approaches, many of us are caught up in finetuning annual reports and other publications. It is time to share our experiences and learnings with others (read donors) and also fish around for future prospects. So, we need to reflect on project experiences and tease out gripping insights. Invariably, we fall back on our frontline workers to help us.

After all, they are the ones who are in the middle of all the action. Mobilising, cajoling, trying different tricks so that the strategies and activities that have been put on paper become reassuring realities. The frontline workers may not necessarily be aware of terms like Theory of Change but they are the ones who live it.

Of course, everybody is not the same. Motivation and capacities vary. There will be programme managers who feel that some of the frontline workers ‘don’t get it’ or that some have gotten too old for the tasks. But, there are also those who value the experience and insights that frontline workers bring. Also, let’s face it. Motivation and capacities vary on both sides!

Personally, I have learnt more from frontline workers than I have in classes on social work. Lessons of unwavering commitment, winning hearts and getting the job done without making a fuss! Of patience and even withstanding personal humiliation for a bigger purpose. I don’t know if I could have done half of what I have known some of them to do. Of course, many organisations are being forced to deal with shrinking resources and other trials of survival. These do cast an insidious shadow and limit possibilities. Nonetheless, let us not forget about those who ultimately make it happen!

And, have to add this! A former fieldwork supervisor once told me – “Maybe people who work in NGOs (non government organisations) need an NGO that would look after their needs and that of their families!”