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Just like a George Clooney movie

11 June 2010

Cécile Clerc, MRG’s Head of Fundraising, ruminates on the wonders of international travel.

Have you seen George Clooney’s latest comedy Up in the Air? It’s the one where the main character (played by George) spends his life between planes and revels in his travelling lifestyle? Well, if you saw it, then you will understand how my life has been over the last few months. If you have not seen it, I’m not sure I should recommend it….that would reveal too much about my movie tastes…

Getting back to my travelling…It was not exactly like in the movie…It was actually much better.

First of all, I was not flying across the United States but across the world (Bosnia, Kenya, Uganda and back to Bosnia again). Secondly, the aim of all my trips was not to fire people, as George does in the film, but to meet with MRG partners and discuss new strategies and ideas on how to advocate for the respect of the rights of the minority and indigenous communities that they represent.

MRG has a network of more than 150 partner organizations worldwide so as you can imagine I met very few of them.

Endorois Elders
Endorois Elders

Still, it was very interesting and inspirational. Also quite cheerful – after all, in two of the countries I visited, MRG and our partners had just achieved amazing legal victories. The outcomes in the Finci case in Bosnia and the Endorois case in Kenya are both direct examples of the successful strategies MRG and our partners use to challenge the discrimination faced by the communities that we support.

In the two regions of the world that I visited, MRG is particularly active and my meetings with partners were to discuss how to strengthen our work further there and how best to support their efforts. In Kenya, we have just launched a big new initiative, supported by the European Commission and focusing on tackling the discrimination that minority and indigenous communities constantly experience.

In the Balkans, we met partners to support them in the design of a new programme that we will closely support. My visit to Uganda was a little different as it enabled me to participate in the recruitment of a Capacity-Building Officer, whose role will be to support the organizational development of our partners in Africa to ensure the sustainability of their work.

All these travels have been great opportunities to also engage with colleagues from MRG’s regional offices in Kampala and Budapest, with whom my contact otherwise is mostly through the relatively cold media of Skype and e-mail.

The last few months may have been busy (unfortunately donors did not stop releasing calls to leave me time to travel) but clearly worth it.

Now, I’m not sure when or where my next trip will be. I once told my colleague Sadiya when she joined the Fundraising team that, “at MRG, fundraisers travel on average every 12 months.” With all the travelling I’ve done recently, I’ve probably reached my quota for the next four years.

Could be a while before you next hear from me…

This article reflects the sole opinion of its author and does not engage MRG’s responsibility.