The value of mentorship for grassroots organizations

By Joseph Bednarek | November 22, 2019 | Europe & Eurasia | Youth Empowerment

When it comes to small NGOs, connecting with peer organizations creates unique opportunities for growth and learning.

GFC partner Our Voice in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, has been around for nearly 15 years. The organization was created to help young people who had graduated from state-run orphanages and boarding schools that did little to prepare orphans for independent life.

Since its founding, Our Voice has operated a group home for orphanage graduates, where young people have a stable living environment while they gain educational or employment skills. But over the years, Executive Director Ainura Ormonova realized that for Our Voice’s work to be sustainable, the organization itself had to be extremely thorough in its structures and operations.

Joe Bednarek with Ainura Ormonova, Executive Director of Our Voice, proudly holding Our Voice's organizational procedures binder!

Making improvements every year, Our Voice’s organizational policies and administration have been rated by USAID and other international organizations at the highest level possible for Kyrgyzstan NGOs.

Our Voice realized that other organizations could benefit from their experience in building organizational structures. Although Our Voice continues to work every day with orphanage graduates and other young people, the organization has now become a mentor and trainer for other organizations serving children and youth.

Last year, when the National Federation of Female Communities of Kyrgyzstan (NFFCK) became a new GFC partner, I recommended that they work with Our Voice to learn about its thorough safeguarding policy and protocols.

What I didn’t realize was how quickly this introduction would lead to a mentor-mentee relationship.

Our Voice conducts a training with fellow GFC partner NFFCK.

Of their own initiative, NFFCK asked Our Voice to do a complete review of all of NFFCK’s organizational policies, including their financial administration, human resources policies, safeguarding policies, and governance. Our Voice trainers have trained NFFCK on many different organizational and programmatic topics, including advocacy strategies, working with government officials, and a training-of-trainers model for teaching health and hygiene to rural girls.

At GFC, one of the primary goals of our capacity development is to help our partners become better connected to the people and resources that will help them succeed. The relationship between Our Voice and NFFCK is a prime example of how valuable an NGO network can be.

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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