When I first learned of Opportunity Collaboration I was immediately thrown over the edge!
There was no question, this was the place to be! ‘A Global Network of Leaders Dedicated To Building Sustainable Solutions to Poverty and Injustice’. Time was ripe. My application for Cordes Fellowship went through. Yes! I got the opportunity to participate as a full delegate at Opportunity Collaboration! The first hurdle was taken care of. I definitely had to get an air ticket from Kenya to fly me there.
That was in 2016. It is contagious. There is so much to give and get. I have since returned in 2018 and looking forward to more possibilities in the future. Networking and collaborations started with conversations on the way from the airport. We were birds of one feather flocked together. Introductions straight away led to what we do back at home in our organizations or work places, and what we could do together or even suggest referrals. We right away exchanged contacts and also agreed to meet further as the trip turned out short.
By the time we stepped at the Conference venue we had way long started friendships and struck plans. We were already at work! My expectations were high, but what I got went far above the bar that I had set. It was time to get, and create experiences for others, within the conference and back at home.
Organization at Opportunity Collaboration is perfectly set. It is at your discretion to get into research before and during the conference, to get to know who the other delegates are, and what they do. The arrangement is well set. Each participant have their mailboxes, arranged in alphabetical order. They are at a strategic place so easy to always stop by to check what mail you have. This enables delegates to arrange for their own meetings, venue and time.
The meeting venues are vast. It could be at the beach or poolside. It could be at the bar over a glass of Magarita or Pina Colada- or a drink of water. It could be in the ocean or swimming pool! There’s plenty of beautiful, fresh, cosy venues, in and outdoors, with exotic views across the ocean. Colloquiums for the Common Good were sessions to look forward to every morning after breakfast They ran for two hours starting 9:00am. There were several rooms with different topics for discussion, all assigned with a moderator. Jade Room 9114 was a place filled with discussion, conversations and debate. It was filled with activities of wellness and self-care too.
My morning sessions here were moderated by Paul Lynch. We shared our personal and general experiences and perspectives at which we view and understand our own selves and communities. In sharing The smaller group discussions and share were interesting. We shared our needs at personal and work level, and what kind of support we would need. It was interesting to note how much we work in different fields and the vast similarities in our needs for support and resources.
Where else do you make a free choice of meeting venue with a donor- like in a swimming pool or at the beach? It can only happen at Opportunity Collaboration hence the Un-Conference. My traditional thinking of meeting the donor in a well arranged office full of books and files was undone. Flexible environments opened my mind, (and the donor’s too). We felt like partners right from the first breath. Thanks to this arrangement the daily tensions that come with donor meetings were done away with.
The Conscious Marketplace made one of my favorite evenings. This was outside The Solunas Bar, in the courtyard. There was beautiful crafts from all over the world. We admired and sold. We shared our stories and those of the women behind the beautiful work. It was emotional to see how much delegates bought our clothes, baskets and bead work knowing that they were supporting causes far beyond their own borders.
The Boehm Media Mini-Clinics were a powerful learning experience. It actually reminded me of my Voices Of Our Future Correspondents Training at World Pulse. Media plays a big part in all our work- Charity, Philanthropy, Personal, and business. Here we learned “how to build a sharp story that lays the groundwork for a great funder relationship’. There was a powerful one hour clinic on ‘how to hold media accountable and better represent your work’. My biggest take was learning how to tell the bigger picture through photography. At lunch came great networking opportunities and salons. I enjoyed The Power of Networks by Laura DeDominicis and Jensine Larsen.
The bottom line here was- learning from one another, avoid duplicating efforts and become more efficient. Sharing experiences with networks, much as it comes with its challenges, it helps to create strong platforms for organizational growth. There was assortment of topics and one could only wish for more time and days to attend many more in person. The good news is that the conversations have space to continue beyond the conference time. Conversations for Change and Capacity Building Clinics came in the afternoons. I had difficulty in making choices here as I related with every topic (except for the ones that were for funders only). The topics ranged from Economic Empowerment, Ending Corruption, Attitude, Sharing Experiences on Anti-Poverty, and Building Partnerships.
Amara once asked me: “How can we come together on empowering women and girls at the Nanny Academy who want to transit out of Nanny jobs to other areas?” I thought, “yes, there is so much that we can do together in our work on having women and girls in the front, starting with us, towards creating the change that we want’.
Dinner times were also great moments to enjoy the sumptuous meals, along with discussions. There was a wide range of foods on buffet service: Vegetarian, vegan and non vegetarian. There was a variety of fruits and sweets for desserts. Ice Cream was a welcome treat every evening. Our discussions went way beyond our meals. We bonded. We wanted to come together to change the world. There was no better time- no other time with the same opportunity.
“Let Board Members know your Expectations. Give them tools to be successful. Make sure they know you are there to support them”. This were great pieces I took away on the afternoon I attended a Capacity Building Bootcamp talking on The Art of Fundraising. It still warms my heart to date. This was by Black Fox Philanthropy. I arrived in good time knowing that this is the area I need to breakthrough in. Well, I was not the first person to arrive. Estrella Room at the Conference Center was full. Additional chairs were brought and packed it was. I thought I was a loner in this field. We all realized how much we need to know, skills to learn and mindsets to shift. T
he big learning was how to engage our board more effectively as fundraisers. I also learned how soothing it was to learn a burning topic over special chocolate brought all the way from California. This had a cooling effect and huge rewards. Thank you Natalie Rekstad and Susan Bachar. Every word sank. I am at work.
Special to my heart was the Children’s sessions, where they played and learned interesting things with their parents and supporters. I had two glasses of lemonade made by the children. It tasted good on a hot afternoon. I was amazed by how much information the children had to offer regarding the juice and choice of colors. In my quest towards changing this world, being on board of solution makers- from a world of poverty to that of abundance and equity, like the rest of my fellow delegates, I would like to come back to Opportunity Collaboration every year.
Registration is open for Opportunity Collaboration. If your organization has never won a Cordes Fellowship, you have the opportunity to apply before January 31.