In the early stages of The Supply, I remember hearing how painful and taxing “international development” was and how mission drift was a constantly lurking danger. About a couple months ago, I finally started to feel this creep in slowly.
International development emerged from the rich masking the accumulation of greater power through aid and temporary relief of the poor. This always bothered me, and we vowed to break this paradigm through The Supply. And to this day, we have been constantly reflecting on our work, setting and re-setting our values and ideologies to ensure we never strayed.
But, although we are proud of our work to date, we know we are still a small fish in a big pond. And as a result, we have been bombarded with the pressure to succumb. Large foundations and donors want us to scratch our objectives entirely because they “take too long” or because of “optics.” Even a few of our beneficiaries (school teachers and directors) have become too easily influenced by money — seeing the Western international development philanthropy model as a way of looking poor but getting rich.
Subsequently, holding our ground has become harder. What do we do if we disagree with some of our primary funders? What is our work without funding? Would our beneficiaries still participate in our education programs without incentives, particularly cash? What is actually motivating our school partners to push the work forward?
This disillusionment and doubt has hit me like a ton of bricks over the past couple months (not to sound dramatic, but in a lot of ways, I have had to re-evaluate everything that I believe in about this world).
It’s been a hard couple months, but also a very renewing one. We’ve taken a brief hiatus from social media and from fundraising to “re-center” and to try to glean as much as we can from this moment of extreme tension. Through this process, we’ve learned a lot, and have come up with new ideas that we believe can further advance our mission, deepen our impact, and most importantly, chip away at the cores of injustice and human suffering.
We’re back now, and you’ll be hearing a lot more from us, including a new initiative that we’ll be launching in the next few weeks. We thank you for your ongoing support and hope you will continue to ride with us on this often tumultuous and thrilling, but always worthwhile pursuit.