The past 7 months have been very special in all 4 Extensions. The period was marked with serious debate and discussion, conducted in an extremely open and self critical manner, on all and every aspect of Coolie Sangha building.
Perhaps it was spurred by the fact that we went through a crisis of sorts when a long standing funding partner backed out of the Consortium, basing their decision on prejudged innuendo passed by an external consultant who did a hatchet job on us. Coupled to this was the confusion caused by the exit of a senior member of the core group, along with 3 to 4 ineffectual staff members who we had inexcusably “carried along” for many years. Ordinarily, such events would have placed us in a defensive mode. Instead, as reported in the preamble to the previous Progress Report, they made us work extra hard, to prove as it were, that we were not paralysed into inactivity. This contributed to mettle, and resulted in a terrific institutional wherewithal being built.
We hasten to add that it was not just our internal strength that helped overcome what we then described as annus horribilis. We owe it all to tens of thousands of Coolie families who stood by us and paid up their Sangha Tax and CCF dues, at great personal cost and suffering, in spite of it being a drought year. Scores of development worker friends and well wishers, including our Governing Body, colleagues from other NGDOs, and just about everyone who had an intimate knowledge of ADATS and the Coolie Sangha, reposed their faith in us and offered moral solidarity. Our 2 other funding partners, ICCO and EZE, went ahead to sanction this 2nd Consortium Programme and approach the European Union for co-finance, in spite of doubts raised by NOVIB.
Once the initial phase of damage control was over and we had convinced ourselves of our resilience to withstand, there came the need to introspect. There were those gnawing doubts and uncertainties; wanting to know what we had done wrong...
A mood for discussion was created through 7 to 8 massive public meetings addressed by the Project Director to over 25,000 women and men from 5 taluks. The special relationship of inter dependent mutuality that arose from a 2 Organisations policy, and how it could be so easily abused, was explored. Accepted practices were questioned. Hard hitting questions were publicly raised and we did not spare either ourselves or our adversaries. The public meetings also turned out to be shows of strength to deter our detractors from further misadventure. Topics raised in the public meetings were followed up with village level discussions reported to each other in Cluster Meets and Taluk Coolie Sangha Meetings.