We think it's the end of the world; a setback almost because Berri is back to head the Parliament. Yes, our blog was one of the first on this blogosphere to broach the issue of the constitutionality of the Parliament Speaker's mandate and Berri's role in Parliament and the dire need for a change. But, I will not let his return, due to power balances and strategic circumstances beyond our control, bring me down.
I'll tell you why. I got amazing news yesterday that the Civil Service has approved several new government positions entitled "NGO Liaisons"! Do you know what this means? It means that our government for the first time recognizes the existence of civil society and the need to work with them in order to achieve its intended goals.
Has this piece of news struck you yet?!
Two years ago, I interned at a certain Ministry, and at that time USAID, the World Bank, the EU and other multinational and foreign entities were offering the Lebanese government small grants to achieve high-impact, short-term goals; the twist to these grants was that the government needed to partner up with a local NGO in order to secure the funding. Government agencies then were scrambling for grant writers to prepare their grant proposals. But not only were they looking for grant writers; they were also looking for people who might have connections to certain NGOs that might be willing to parnter up to implement the grants.
The process was difficult and chosing NGOs to forge partnerships with was very ad hoc. Any talk at that time of employing civil servants as NGO liaisons was indeed alien.
I recall suspecting that our public administration will be eventually conceding to a worldwide trend which is namely recognizing the presence of civil society (as opposed to just the private sector) and the need to partner up with its diverse organizations to achieve essential goals, such as awareness, the provision of public and educational materials, outreach, among many other services.
Fast forward two years: It is happening! The new government (which will be sworn in in ten days) will be signing off on those new positions. Now, government agencies will be looking for employees with knowledge and background in nonprofit management, including contract management and grant writing.
For me at least, this news was cause for celebration! This piece of news is intended for those who are pessimistic about our country. Don't be! I myself long for returning now. Our public institutions are finally able to react to international and Lebanese social trends. Finally what I have studied in a class, I can see being achieved in reality!
I am an optimist by nature, but not a foolish optimist. I can point out the silver linings in the midst of darkness. It pays off sometimes to dig deeper and to see that there are still a few good men and women in our public agencies who believe in the public good. Thank you for staying there and fighting the fight. We will be coming soon to join your forces!
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."