Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fundraising-A Roller Coaster Ride

Terms like economic depression, hard times, took on a whole new meaning for the fundraising committee of the Cairo Refugee Film Festival.

UNHCR which had collaborated on most of the World Refugee Day celebrations in Cairo could not support us, which was a big dampener for us as we had been heavily relying on their participation. They did offer us a valuable advice though-to trim the festival duration from the proposed 8 days. A very pertinent suggestion, in view of the current economic scenario.

Reem had painstakingly researched on the potential funders but had not met with any luck. Mai was wary of approaching the corporate sponsors and the usual collaborators like the UNHCR had said no. Where did that leave us?

And then the first breakthrough came when UNICEF decided to collaborate with us on the workshops and our media campaign. Though we were still by no means any closer to the required amount, it was at least a beginning.

After the response from UNICEF, there was a lull for so long that we were becoming nervous. Our volunteers-Tamara and Ligia-came up with great ideas to get funding but nothing seemed to work.

All our hopes were pinned on the upcoming meeting with the Netherlands embassy. On the day of our first meeting at the Netherlands embassy, Mai and Sankalita took special care with their dressing-turning up in their “Sunday best”. An exercise in futility because the concerned person had called in sick that morning and there was no meeting. An ominous sign?

When the meeting with the Netherlands embassy finally took place, Sankalita’s forceful defence of the relevance of the proposed film festival to the average Egyptian was brought to an abrupt halt by the insightful question of the Netherlands embassy representative “You are not an Egyptian, are you?” This broke the ice as the discussion meandered into how much time must be spent in a country before a person starts referring to it as his/her own. A very satisfactory meeting but there was slight hitch-the lady was going to go away on vacation, though she promised that a colleague of hers would be in touch with us. Our project was approved the very next day but we spent a tension-filled week because the mail approving our project had been sent to the wrong mail ID! Anyways, at this point, we were ecstatic!

The icing on the cake was when Mai’s perseverance and optimism in relation to Movies that Matter turned out to be well founded and they approved a princely sum for the festival.

Money makes the world go round and no one knows this better than the fundraising committee at the Cairo Refugee Film Festival.

Cherry on the cake?-the Gothe institute agreed to lend us their projector for screening the films for the festival, apart from supporting us with funds. As they say “now we are in business.”

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