At the beginning of September, 54 representatives from MRDF partner organisations in 13 countries met in Uganda for four and a half days of intensive workshops. The aim of the ‘Strength to Strength’ conference was to provide an opportunity for partner organisations to come together, share ideas and learn from one another.
MRDF last held a partner conference in 2007 and partners have been requesting another one ever since. A core team of six, consisting of representatives from partner organisations in Africa and Asia, decided the topics to be discussed. They included gender, corruption, finance and advocacy. Conference delegates could also attend optional sessions on things like leadership, sustainable livelihoods and good governance.
Programmes Officer Mel Coleman said, ‘Partners particularly appreciated the sessions on local fundraising, anti-corruption and leadership. But it was also great to see how much the partners learnt from one another. Each of our partners made a stall to display their work, and the stalls included videos, banners and in one case a street play. There was a real buzz around each partner demonstrating what they are doing and swapping ideas about what works in their communities.’
Although workshops ran from 8am to 6.30pm (and often much later!), there was also time for relaxation. Mel, together with Mandie Jones, Programme Manager, spotted posters for a Gospel concert and were able to arrange free tickets for all the delegates.
One of the four plenary sessions introduced partners to the kind of work the MRDF admin team back in London does. It also explained who MRDF supporters are, and showed pictures of church fundraising events, harvest festivals, fair feasts and marathon runners! After the session delegates sat in silence, awed by the dedication and commitment of MRDF supporters all over the UK, and then broke into spontaneous applause.