Two time AfID volunteer Ieuan Corley featured in CIMA's FM Magazine12.09.2017

I Worked On… Rebuilding Communities in Rwanda
 

I volunteered with Children Might Foundation (CMF), an NGO based in Rwamagana, Rwanda. It was founded in 2009 by Douglas Kakooza, who remains to this day pivotal to its success.

 

CMF has a variety of education, farming, shelter, and medical assistance programmes. Primarily it focuses on providing education for children whose families cannot afford the surprisingly expensive cost of education in Rwanda, and on a women's farming co-operative. It is only a small NGO, but it has a big heart.

 

My role was to seek out funding from foreign embassies for a farming project. Any income-generating project is highly prized in the NGO world and is now almost a prerequisite for all donor organisations. We costed and made forecasts for the construction and running of a passionfruit farm and a pig farm, which would be managed and run by the women's farming co-operative, Abagore Farming, just outside Rwamagana.

 

We recently submitted a proposal for funding to the German embassy that we hope will be successful. It is the first time that CMF has sought out funding at this level and, if successful, could transform the lives of the 12 women who work on the farm. If not, we learn and adapt by making suitable changes in our future submissions to other embassies. I will continue to support CMF remotely, and I am confident we will secure the funding needed.

 

I worked with some truly amazing people in Rwanda. They made me feel so welcome and like part of the family. Rwanda is spotlessly clean and well organised and has come a long way since the genocide in 1994, but there are still many challenges ahead. Every visitor to Rwanda should visit the genocide memorial in Kigali. It is a heart-breaking but necessary experience to better understand the extent of the genocide and what people have had to live through.

 

I first looked into the possibility of undertaking an assignment with Accounting for International Development (AfID) in August 2015. I wanted to use my skills to contribute something positive, and I was really attracted to AfID's ethos of sustainable development. I elected to work as a financial consultant for the Southern Environmental Association (SEA), an NGO based in Placencia, Belize, for three months. Whilst there, I managed to secure the final tranches of funding from its key donor, which safeguarded the organisation's future for 18 months. Any accountant could have done this, but SEA simply didn't have the skills in-house to do so, which is one of the reasons why AfID is so important.

 

If anyone else is thinking of taking such a role, my recommendations would be: Don't underestimate the impact of different linguistic/cultural/working practices.

 

Be patient, flexible, and positive but realistic. Implementing or revising systems/processes is relatively easy, but embedding the changes is much more difficult. Things won't always pan out exactly as you expect, whilst other outcomes you had not anticipated could be genuinely life changing.

 

Both the Belize and the Rwanda assignments have been life enriching and have certainly made me a better accountant. I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. I am currently on a temporary assignment for Imperial Tobacco overseeing the transfer of the rep reporting (all things finance related for the various sales/availability/ regional sales reps) to the Philippines. Although it is only a short-term project, I am lucky enough to work with a really great and dedicated team.

 

Original article featured in the August edition of CIMA's FM Magazine.