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Unfinished, challenging, resourceful…

Reflections on 2020, plans for 2021

Written by Marinke van Riet, Global Programme Manager for Voice

At the end of every year, the Dutch public chooses a word that best symbolises the year just gone by. It must come as no surprise that the top-three of this year were all words related to the Corona virus. The winner -by far- was the ‘anderhalvemetersamenleving‘, referring to the one-metre-fifty or social distancing society. Our Flemish neighbours -who have adopted the same linguistic tradition- did a bit better, in my humble opinion, by choosing ‘knuffelcontact‘, referring to those people beyond the immediate family that you could still have hugs (=knuffel) or intimate contact with!

And what words did Voice choose for the year 2020? When we did the same exercise among all our team members -some 35 in total- the responses were surprising – and not. They are compiled in the wordle and title above, but I am also highlighting a few here:

Challenging, be more patient and learn to live in a new normal.

Disguised blessings amidst chaos and uncertainties.

Hard boiled and optimistic.

How the year 2020 was for Voice country team members. Some impressions

Obviously, the reflections were very different from other years, but do you know what the key difference was? The fact that we had to do this reflection -and all other events- virtually, even further removed from the ‘anderhalvemetersamenleving‘ and ‘knuffelcontact’ combined!

Digitalisation. Accelerated.

Another one of these buzzwords that took on a new meaning in 2020, especially for the (rigthsholder) groups that Voice stands for. Due to not being able to travel, grantee partners were encouraged to invest in their digital capacity. This was most evident during the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, in short IDAHOT 2020, which we shared in the VoiceMail of May. Or, as Cosam Mc’Oveh, ICT officer with PEMA Kenya said :

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us to get out of our comfort zones. 

Cosam Mc’Oveh, ICT officer with PEMA Kenya, a regional LGBTI empowerment grantee

And we followed the grantees’ lead!

At the end of June 2020, Voice was honoured to host the  Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Ms Sigrid Kaag, who paid a digital work visit to the Malian Association for People with Albinism or AMPA, a Voice partner based in Bamako. It was the first digital work visit of its kind, for both Voice and the Ministry and we were glad to Make it happen despite some technical hitches.

The anderhalvemetersamenleving in action during the digital work visit by Her Excellency Minister Kaag (middle left) to AMPA in Mali.

Full Steam Ahead

But in all honesty, we cannot wait for 2021 to start and to leave 2020 behind. Some of the Voice magic happens when organising face-to-face events at regional or global level and we have not been able to do this in 2020, beyond some smaller digital ones. While a full-scale face-to-face event may have to wait a little bit longer, we are gearing up for a Voice@5 celebration on April 7th, 2021, whereby we will connect the digital with the personal worlds. Eleven country connections, one inclusive world!

Plus we are committed to make up some of the delays, especially on grant-making! We have started already and we encourage you to look at the list of 13 Calls for Proposals open, and counting. They range from Linking and Learning grants to Influencing grants on movement building, repeat grantees to I-Rant for Nigeria – because Nigerian deserve a good rant, providing an opportunity to transform words into action.

And if you are interested in joining the fight for an inclusive world, join us! We currently have open posts for a new team in Niger and a Linking, Learning and Amplifier officer in Tanzania. Deadline for both recruitments is the 4th of January, 2021!

So watch and join us in 2021, as we go from unfinished to finished, while rising up to challenges yet remaining resourceful!

#Fullsteamahead #beautifultrouble #Voice@5 #NOW-Us!

PS Hopefully you are also able to take a well-deserved rest at the end of such a crazy year. We are closing our doors between 21st December and 3rd of January!



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