Two Norwegian NGO directors spoke about their experiencing in forming a strong base within their home country before branching out to developing countries. However, it was the third talk, by a director from an Ethiopian NGO, that offered the most unique perspective in my opinion. While it was interesting to see the issues from each side of this North-South relationship, I was most touched by the dignity and hope conveyed by the Ethiopian panelist, Ms. Birikit Terefe.
In a nation that ranks among the lowest in the world in mean income and among the highest in maternal death, it might be easy to despair or to turn entirely to the outside world for support. However, Ms. Terefe explained that her organization, the Women's Health Association of Ethiopia, is not giving up so easily. Her words were truly inspiring: "We want opportunity, not charity. Give us opportunity and we will prosper." The best way to this opportunity, the panelists believe, is to form long-term partnerships with international organizations. In this way, they can share not only their expertise on fundraising, but also their knowledge and a vital network of people in the international community. The hope certainly felt contagious - under the leadership of inspired leaders such as Ms. Terefe, the women of Ethiopia may certainly find prosperity in the years to come.