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The Story of Nangchukja (II)

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【专栏】| Conlumists >微公益 | MicroCharity

By Yibai, Jointing.Media, in Shanghai  2011-07-05

Chinese

Where there is a big dream, there is a big arena

Nangchukja has completed three similar projects in nearby villages. Every time he improved the living conditions in one place, he found more places in need of similar projects, and more requests from local people for him to find ways to help their communities. Nangchukja has completed more than 30 projects with funds totaling around 2 million RMB

JM: How do you target what local people need?

N: It’s easy for me to communicate with locals because I myself am a local. The easiest way is to live with them for some time. It’s a good way to get to know them and their difficulties. For example, soon after my graduation in 2009, we were implementing a project that required us to visit 15 villages and record details of people’s living conditions. We stayed in these villages for about a month doing interviews and questionnaires. Based on this experience and the eleven-page questionnaire we made, we were better able to choose appropriate projects for each village and specific plans for realizing them.


JM: Did any of your projects fail?

N: Yes. Back in 2007, we spent 80,000 RMB and a whole year on a clinic project. Our original target was to sell medicine at half the price because the local price was extremely high. However, we were unable to reach the target and we only half accomplished our goal.

JM: Where did the idea for clinic project come from?

N: The “barefoot doctors” in the village had very limited knowledge of medicine and could treat only headaches or colds. Those who contracted a serious disease had to ride three hours by horse to buy medicine from a larger village 8 kilometers away. On some occasions, villagers would have to ride 80 kilometers to buy medicine in the county town. We happened to have a Red Cross project at that time and we persuaded the village head and the Party branch secretary to work together on the clinic project. It cost around 30,000 RMB to build the clinic and 50,000 RMB to buy the medicine and medical equipment.

JM: Have you reflected on this failure?

N: Yes. We gained a lot of experience from this project. At that time, medicine was more expensive than we had supposed and we had many problems managing the clinic. We changed the operation method accordingly. We became more transparent and sought doctors ourselves in order to ensure that villagers could buy medicine at half the price. However, this upset the village leadership and they criticized us. We have this sort of experience from time to time while implementing projects. Thus, even though most villagers were supportive, I have had to give up some projects because some people opposed them due to their personal interest.

JM: What did you learn from this project?

N: Be smarter and settle contracts at the very beginning of a project. Everything should follow the contract. For example, we were doing a water project sponsored by the German Embassy and before implementing the project, we briefed the government, obtained their permission, then signed a contract with the beneficiaries. Only after we had permission from the government and consensus from the beneficiaries we did focus on running the project.

JM: Where did the idea of setting up Friendship Charity Association come from?

N: I realized that the level of trust I got from people was relatively low when I did things personally because I was a student at the time. I talked to people and realized it would be easier and more efficient to create a focused organization and do things under its auspices. After we set up the office in March 2009, I flew to Shanghai for a forum. It was my first time on an airplane and I was extremely nervous. My trip in Shanghai was productive: I attended lots of meetings and met many people who became friends and from whom I obtained useful information. I realized Shanghai was a different world and that there were many things we could learn there.

JM: How were you able to find the time to do these things?

N: When I was at school, I spent most of my weekends and holidays on these projects. I was not financially well-off at that time. There was a friend from inland China who spent time at my school every year and it was through the many conversations with him that I learned much about NGOs. I collected lots of information regarding registering a non-profit organization after graduation. I studied the information carefully along with relevant information I got from official websites of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and other government agencies. FCA was officially registered in October 2008. I realized that I had started a lifetime career. I had also been working with a local NGO to earn a living while studying for my Bachelor degree.

I set up the organization’s website with a friend’s help, but mostly by myself though initially I had very little knowledge of website construction. However, I had a great passion for it and it motivated me to learn by doing. It took me 6 months to finalize the website. As for the office, even though the organization was already founded, we lacked our own space. Through a teaching program, I had cooperation with HuaQiao Foundation and became their regional director for their Xining office. We shared the office. Before that, I worked at Qinghai Normal University as an assistant.

JM: How does FCA do nowadays?

N: We have only two full-time staff members–myself and Namjay Tsering. Because a staff of two people is not enough to complete all the work, we rely volunteers and friends to help us.

JM: How about your income?

N: Before leaving my job, I earned 1000 RMB per month, which was just enough for basic living expenses. Between March 2009 and February 2010, I had no income. Currently, we have few expenses because we share the office with HuaQiao Foundation. Now we have successfully obtained funds for operational expenses for two years, the result of persistence.

JM: What is your dream?

N: To continue FCA’s work and develop projects in response to local people’s needs.

(To be continued)

Translated by Ryan

Edited by Robert

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