Origin of the Project
The linkage project has its roots in CUSO's desire to find new ways to fulfil its mandate, and in the St. John's local CUSO committee's interest in having part-time staff support for its volunteer activities. A CUSO Canadian Caucus meeting in June of 1984 approved in principle, a study of the possibilities for programming in Newfoundland, and the feasibility of providing staff support to CUSO volunteers' work in the province. In the Fall of 1984, CUSO staff member Ken Shipley, came to Newfoundland to conduct the study.
Shipley found that there were important resources and an interest in working with CUSO among the people with whom he had spoken. He also found that focus on a particular project, such as a "twinning" project, seemed appropriate for CUSO in Newfoundland. He recommended that CUSO commit itself to such a project, and that it attempt to "reach a significant threshold of activity quickly." He suggested that CUSO employ a staff person who would help get this project off the ground.
The twinning project envisioned by Shipley, would be a pilot, "an opportunity to test a more focused approach to linking CUSO operations in Canada and overseas." CUSO had already played a role in organizing several linkages between individuals, groups, and institutions in the Third World with counterparts in Canada. Those linkages had been short term (usually exchanges and tours) but they had demonstrated several advantages over CUSO's traditional approach of sending individual co-operants overseas. According to Shipley, those advantages included: increased levels of awareness of the overseas work in Canada, increaseed committment to support the development work, more of a sense of ownership of the development plan, and a higher level of expertise applied to both program development and implementation. It was expected that the Newfoundland pilot was to be more intensive and would sow the seeds for a long term linkage. Although Shipley did not specifically recommend that Newfoundland be twinned with Belize in his report, he did briefly discuss a hypothetical Newfoundland-Belize linkage. The decision to link Newfoundland with Belize was made in Ottawa, based on similiarities between the two regions.
Subsequent to the Shipley Report, the matter of a linkage project was further discussed at the national level of CUSO, with Atlantic Region staff and volunteers, and with staff of the Jamaica-Belize overseas program. So, the concept of the project evolved to a large extent, within CUSO and among Newfoundland groups before there was any substantial contact with groups or individuals in Belize. In March of 1985, Selena Tapper, CUSO's Jamaica-based Field Staff Officer visited Newfoundland, and in June she met with various government officials in Belize. CUSO developed a project proposal by June of 1985, and in the Fall of that year, it hired part-time staff to do the necessary groundwork in Belize and Newfoundland. By December of 1985 or January of 1986, there were clear expressions of interest among potential partners in Belize.
Objectives of the Project
According to CUSO's Brian Tomlinson, who had responsibility for the project at the national level in the early stages, the linkage project was "conceived and organized to test the feasibility of linkage programming across several sectors between two geographic program centres." A CUSO project plan narrowed the focus by identifying the sectors. It stated that the purpose of the project was "To explore and design a linkage program for co-operation between institutions active in rural development in Newfoundland and Belize focusing on the sectors of health, the fisheries, co-operatives and adult education." According to that document, the project had five specific objectives, as follows:
"1. To identify the appropriate institutions in these sectors and to establish a process through which they can mutually analyze their respective interests, needs, and the nature of their contribution (material and human resources) to a linkage program.
2. To develop organizational structures within CUSO and amongst the co-operating institutions that will facilitate direct and long-term structures for contact and communication between Newfoundland and Belize.
3. To encourage an educational process through which participating community groups and development organizations share their experience and understanding of the conditions underlying underdevelopment in their respective countries and develop action strategies for social change.
4. To prepare a two year linkage program of co-operation between Newfoundland and Belize, with specific objectives, plans of action, budgets of expenditures and income. Such a program would also define the role of the participating institutions as well as CUSO nationally, in the Caribbean, and in Newfoundland.
5. To document the Pilot Project so as to evaluate the relevance of linkage programming to the renewal of CUSO's mandate and mission in both Canada and the Third World."
The CUSO document included a seven point work plan which provided time lines for workshops in Newfoundland and Belize, exchange visits, and for organizing co-ordinating committees in each region. By the end of the project, a two-year program of activities for the linkage partners was to have been agreed upon, and an extensivie evaluation was to have been carried out. Adjustments were made in timing, but essentially the project was implemented according to that plan. The major exception was that the evaluation process was not as extensive as it was expected to have been and probably should have been.
Although it was hoped that the linkage would continue in the long term, and although CUSO expressed an interest in playing some kind of a long term role, (mainly facilitating communication), from CUSO's point of view, "the project" was to establish (a Volunteer) linkage relationship. "The project" did not specifically include nurturing this relationship or facilitating its progress over the succeeding months and years. CUSO apparentlly felt that once the relationship was established, it would then be up to the linkage partners in Newfoundland and Belize to keep it going.
Tomlinson wrote that the project's main aim was to "stimulate reciprocal development co-operation between institutions and groups in Newfoundland and Belize. At the end of the project the participating institutions working together will have designed a program which responds to their long-term development interests and needs."
Establishing the Linkage Committees
Based on his visit to Newfoundland, Ken Shipley felt that groups and institutions involved in fisheries, health, agriculture, forestry, and community development should be considered for involvement in the linkage project. A variety of groups and institutions were contacted with respect to the linkage, and a workshop was held in St. John's in March of 1985. Attending the workshop were people involved in local community development/social animation, nursing, College of Fisheries, the Department of Rural Development, Oxfam, and CUSO. One fisherman attended. Half of the workshop participants were involved with CUSO, either as staff or volunteers.
The March workshop involved a sharing of information and discussion on linkage programming, international development work, and development and underdevelopment in Newfoundland and Belize. There was also discussion on what Newfoundland-based organizations had to offer Belize, and what they themselves might gain from such an experience. The participants stated that they could offer technical expertise and experience in training community health workers; they could offer courses in fishery related areas, and they could assist in facilitating community development and in the design and delivery of non-formal adult education programs. They felt they and their respective institutions could benefit in various ways by having direct international development experience; for example, they could increase their inter-cultural awareness, and by learning about another region of the world they could increase their knowledge about the local situation; it was felt that direct links could be established between Newfoundland and Belizean communities, so that whole communities could benefit from the linkage.
Part-time co-ordinators were hired in Newfoundland and Belize in November of 1985, and a second workshop was held in St. John's in that month, this time with the two Belizean co-ordinators in attendance. Five non-CUSO people who had participated in the previous workshop attended the second, as well as three new persons representing the agricultural, co-operative and engineering sectors, which had not been represented previously.
After an update on what had been done since the last workshop, participants gave presentations on their work in their respective sectors in Newfoundland, and the Belizeans gave a presentation on Belizean history, on development issues and problems and on various attempts to develop the country. Some time was then spent considering some of the many parallels between Newfoundland and Belize, and in identifying priority areas for the linkage project. The priorities were:
-co-op and other organizational development;
-helping communities define problems and goals;
-post-secondary education, using extension methods, and non-traditional education.
That the linkage project be reciprocal in nature, was strongly emphasized.
Finally, some consideration was given to the criteria for choosing exchange participants. Relationship to the priority areas was one of the many such criteria; gender balance, and a host of personal characteristics were others. It was agreed that counterparts in Belize would have a say in the selection process, as would a soon-to-be-established, co-ordinating committee. The next day, CUSO staff and some members of the CUSO local committee met to discuss follow up work, including the establishment of a co-ordinating committee.
In Belize there was a similiar process of workshops and meetings, and a co-ordinating committee was organized. Some changes were made to accomodate other sectors on the co-ordinating committees following the exchange visit to Belize in November of 1986. (Those committees still exist, now known as Belize-Newfoundland Linkage Committees). Among the committees' first activities was assisting in the planning and implementation of the first exchange visits.
The Exchange Visits
In November of 1985, the two Belizean co-ordinators spent one week in Canada. They met with CUSO in Ottawa, and spent about three days in St. John's. There they were involved in a workshop, and they met with representatives of the nursing, fishery, co-operative, and social action sectors. On their return to Belize they began to organize a workshop among prospective linkage partners in Belize.
In February of 1986, the Newfoundland co-ordinator visited Belize to participate in the workshop organized by the Belize co-ordinators, and to become more familiar with the country. She met with representatives of community groups, government departments such as Nursing and Co-operatives, and various development agencies. She reported that one of the major problems was to ensure that the project was indeed a linkage and not another Canadian "charitable donation." She stated that it was relatively clear as to what Newfoundland had to offer Belize, but it was less clear as to what they would contribute in return. Another problem she identified was ensuring that the co-ordinating committees and the exchanges were comprised of organizations and individuals who were interested in doing progressive, grass-roots work.
As we have seen, the issue of selection of individuals who would be members of the exchange had been discussed at the workshop in November of 1985. In the end, the Newfoundland Committee recommended people, including representatives of the Marine Institute, the Federation of Co-operatives, youth, Roman Catholic Social Action, the School of Nursing, and MUN Extension.
Belizeans Visit Newfoundland
Belizeans representing Nursing, Adult Education, Fisheries, Rural Development, Community Development, and Youth sectors visited Newfoundland for two weeks in the Fall of 1986. The objective of the visit was to enable the potential linkage partners to get to know their counterparts from the other region, to learn what they had to offer, and to make recommendations to their respective institutions or sectors. The Belizeans spent some time in rural Newfoundland as well as in St. John's, and they were provided with individualized itineraries so that they could focus on what was most relevant to their particular sectors.
Newfoundlanders Visit Belize
In November of 1986, five Newfoundland volunteers and the part-time co-ordinator visited Belize, for essentially the same purpose as the Belizeans had visited Newfoundland. They met with Government representatives and community leaders throughout much of the country. On November 12, and 13 a planning and evaluation workshop was held in Belize City, with the Newfoundlanders and nine Belizean counterparts attending. A representative from CUSO in Ottawa, the Jamaica-based Field Staff Officer, and a CUSO co-operant in Belize also attended.
After some discussion the workshop identified several possible joint Newfoundland-Belize projects. They included:
-linking the villages of Hopkins and Maskall with Bell Island in order to facilitate sharing of information and ideas on mobilizing and organizing for community participation and development;
-linking SPEAR with the Roman Catholic Office of Social Action and MUN Extension, in order to transfer skills in the area of participatory research methods and media techniques, to share popular education techniques, and to build solidarity between the two regions, particularly vis a vis the liberation struggles in Central America;
-linking Belize's Extra Mural Department with MUN Extension, to share information in such areas as management of extension adult education programs, community development training, and research, and to exchange lecturers. Sharing MUN Extension's social animation video skills was also identified;
-linking Belizean District Councils with Newfoundland Development Associations to share community development skills and experiences;
-linking youth groups from the two regions;
-linking the Marine Institue with the Belizean Department of Fisheries. The Marine Institue could offer such things as participation in a mobile outboard maintenance course, diesel engine maintenance and repair, boat building and design, sharing information on fisheries training, fish industry management training and other extension programs. The Institute could also get involved in research on better utilization of presently discarded Belizean lobster parts, and could facilitate a conference in Newfoundland on co-operatives in the fishery;
-linking MUN's School of Nursing with the Belize Department of health.
In order to further explore these possibilities, and to co-ordinate projects, it was decided that the co-ordinating committees would, if they did not already, include representation from all the sectors mentioned. It was also agreed that the Committee's responsibilities would be to:
-plan implementation approaches;
-work with sub-committees from the various sectors on such matters as reviewing and prioritizing proposals, and studying their feasibility;
-maintain communication between Newfoundland and Belize.
The Linkage Committees
Like the Newfoundland committee, the Belize committee's composition changed somewhat over the years, with some people dropping off, and being replaced by others. For example, in Newfoundland, the youth sector representative left the committee not long after visiting Belize and he was replaced. Similiarly, between September of 1988 and March of 1989, a representative of Maskall had dropped from the Belize committee but a new person, representing the Coastlands Institute in Dangriga had joined.
The Belize Committee was able for a time to draw on the part-time services of a Canadian CUSO co-operant who was working in the country.
Like the Newfoundland-based committee, the one in Belize had its active and not-so active periods. For example, it was reported that the Belize committee had "gained a new lease on life" between September of 1988 and March of 1989. This was attributed to the fact that some projects were now coming to fruition, and to the fact that a Newfoundland committee member had been in Belize, (working with SPEAR) for part of that time.
Following the termination of the co-ordinators' position in Belize, that committee's administrative work was done by SPEAR, for a fee. In March of 1989, a new arrangement was worked out with the various agencies involved in the linkage, to share the administrative responsibilities.
In December of 1986, the Newfoundland (and Belizean??) co-ordinator's contracts expired. The co-ordinating committees were to ask CUSO to continue staff support, following the workshop in Belize City in November of 1986. (Did they??)
Workshop on Video and Community Animation
As part of the November 1986 workshop in Belize City, MUN Extension and Social Action co-facilitated a workshop on video and community animation for Belizeans involved in community development and adult education.
Newfoundland College Students Visit
Eleven community studies students from the Bay St. George Community College raised their own money and visited Belize. With a college instructor as their leader, the group talked with community development workers in several Belizean communities.
Spear-Social Action Commission project
A member of the Roman Catholic Office of Social Action worked with SPEAR in Belize between September and December of 1988. Funds for this project (including a co-operant salary) were provided by CUSO and the Canadian Catholic Office of Development and Peace.
Essentially, the objective of the project was to have a sharing of education and development methods and philosophies. While in the country, the Newfoundland committee member worked with a variety of Belizean community groups as well as with SPEAR. An evaluation of the project was very positive, stating that both parties had learned considerably from working together.
It was hoped that a member of SPEAR would have come to Newfoundland to spend about three months in the summer of 1990 working with Social Action, but this did not happen.
Nursing was one of the original areas identified by the linkage group, and representatives of that sector were part of the first exchanges. Although individual Nursing representatives on the Newfoundland committee changed several times over the years, discussions between the MUN School of Nursing and the Belize School of Nursing continued. A proposal was developed and modified, based on further meetings in Belize and Newfoundland. An exchange visit of Nursing representatives was accomplished with the assistance of a $5,000 mini-grant from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada in 1988.
Early versions of the proposal included more elements of reciprocity in that the Belize School would help train Newfoundlanders in midwifery, and would host some Newfoundland Nursing graduate students. The proposal which was finally financed by CIDA did not include these elements and is essentially, focused on preparing Belizean health care workers for providing mental health psychiatric services. It involves the MUN School of Nursing leading the development and delivery of courses in mental health for delivery to Belizean professional nurses and health care attendants.
Despite initial problems in staffing, the three year project is now off and running.
Shrimp Boat Design Project
A proposal to design a better shrimp fishing vessel for Belizean waters was developed by the Marine Institute representative and the Belize Fisheries Department representative and submitted to CUSO in the summer of 1987. The effort did not succeed in obtaining funds from CUSO, but it was subsequently funded by the linkage committee and the Marine Institute.
By September of 1988, the first phase of this project had been completed, with a Marine Architecture instructor and student from the Marine Institute having visited Belize to gather information. A set of blueprints was developed, and an attempt was made to have the Belizean Government, a Belizean fishing co-op, and a Canadian funding agency fund the construction of a prototype. It was also hoped that as part of the project, several Belizeans would be trained in construction of the boat.
In 1989, the Newfoundland Committee was asked to assist with a cultural retrieval project among the Garifuna people of Hopkins village. The nature of the assistance was to be in the form of ducumenting on video and on still photgraphs, a process in which skilled Garifuna people passed on handicraft skills to other people. The project also was designed to foster community organization and re-inforce cultural self-image among the Garifuna, and to encourage inter-ethnic communication by inviting non-Garifuna people.
A staff member of MUN Extension went to Belize and he videotaped and still photographed the event. Later, he helped edit the materials.
Petty Harbour Conference
With funds from PPP and those secured by the local CUSO committee, the linkage and local committees worked together on organizing a conference entitled: "Development as if we Plan to Stay: Co-operatives and Sustainable Development." The conference was held in a Newfoundland fishing town which had an organized co-operative. It was attended by Newfoundland fishers, representatives of several co-ops, and other development agencies. Three Belizeans, representing the Government's Fisheries Department, a large national co-operative, and a small struggling one participated in the conference as resource people.
An evaluation session was very positive, and a working group was established to do follow up work identified as being necessary by the conference. Video and Print Conference Reports were developed and widely circulated, as was a position paper entitled "Of the Fishers, By the Fishers, For the Fishers," which was developed by the Conference working group.
Videos on Co-operatives
Based on a recommendation made at the Petty Harbour Conference, the Newfoundland Committee contracted MUN Extension to develop two videos on co-operatives. Subsequently, tapes were made on the Bell Island and Petty Harbour co-ops. They were distributed by the committee, and through MUN Extension's library system.
Participation in Militarism Conference
In 1988, two Belizeans participated in a conference on militarism and development which was held in St. John's. They were able to add greatly to the conference by presenting a Central American perspective.
In November of 1988, a youth from Bell Island visited the Hopkins Organization of Youths. This involved an exchange of information and views on the situation with respect to youth in the two regions.
It was expected that a return exchange would be made to Bell Island in 1989, and an application was sent to CIDA's PPP and the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace for funds.
Youth For Social Justice Camp
The Newfoundland and Belize committees co-operated in sending two Belizean youths to the Youth for Social Justice Camp in 1990. This Camp has been operating for several years, and is designed to increase youth's awareness of development and social justice issues and to help them learn practical skills such as newsletter production, photography, and popular theatre.
How many Belizeans participated in 1991?
Workshop on Media
In 1990, a member of the Newfoundland committee gave a workshop on media for people involved in that field in Belize.
Ad Hoc Development Education
The committees have always attempted to include elements of development education when residents of one region visit the other. When Belizeans visited Newfoundland for example, efforts were made to arrange public seminars, informal talks etc. on various aspects of development in Belize. Belizeans have met with rural Newfoundlanders in several rural and urban areas, and in one instance they participated in a live television public forum on education and development.
In another instance, a public seminar was given at Memorial University by a member of the Belize Committee who was in St. John's to work on editing the cultural retrieval video. His seminar was on Refugees and Development in Central America: The case of Belize, and was sponsored by the Newfoundland committee and MUN Extension.
Exchange of Materials
From time to time, print and video materials are exchanged between members of the two committees. They include materials on adult education, community development, fisheries, community communications tools and methodologies etc.
In addition to the projects mentioned above, there were several proposals developed, (ususally jointly between Belizean and Newfoundland committee members) which did not come to fruition. Lack of funding was the biggest problem.
Linking Indigenous Peoples
Several discussions were held with respect to developing a link between between Mayan, Kekchi, and Garifuna and the Innu of Labrador. In July of 1989, the Newfoundland Committee approved funds for an Innu person to attend a conference of indigenous peoples in Belize. After making the necessary arrangements it was found that the person could not go, because of other committments and there was no time to arrange for another person to attend.
Mobile Fisheries-Related Courses
The Marine Institute and the Belize Department of Fisheries submitted a proposal to CUSO in 1987 to offer a mobile outboard motor maintenance and repair course in Belize. The project received some support from the Belize Government, but apparently it was in conflict with that government's own proposal for a similiar project through the International Center for Ocean Development in Canada.
This project did not receive funding.
Community Learning and Resource Centre
Members of the Coastlands Institute and the Stann Creek Branch of the Belize National Teacher's Union had been attempting to develop an adult education program in Dangriga, and after discussing the idea with the leader of the youth group from Newfoundland in 1987, a decision was made to seek linkage committee assistance in obtaining funds. Initially, the proposal included a strong youth sector component, but this was later developed as a separate proposal.
The proposal was developed and revised with Belize committee funds, and submitted to CUSO in April of 1988. It called for a co-operative effort among several Newfoundland and Belizean institutions to establish a community learning and resources center in Belize. It requested approximately $143,000 from CIDA and about $22,000 in in-kind contributions from the Coastlands Institute, MUN Extension, the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Advisory Council, and the Belize National Teachers Union. Funds would have been spent on adult education classes, training of community animators and community residents, and the development of a video-assisted communications link.
This proposal was not funded.
In the Spring of 1987, the Social Action Commission and MUN Extension representatives submitted a proposal for work in the adult education sector to the Belize Committee. The proposal for work in Belize included: training in approaches to adult education and community development among Belizean educators and community development workers, intensive training and community work in selected Belizean communities, and development of audio-visual production and utilization capability. The proposal also suggested that Belizean educators and community development workers spend work terms in MUN Extension offices and in the Social Action office, and that they hold seminars etc. to share their perspectives on extension and community development with Newfoundlanders; they would also help increase awareness of Central America issuesin Newfoundland.
The video and communications component of the proposal were considered by the Belize committee to be unfeasible at the time, but other components were actually worked on through other projects such as the one carried out by SPEAR and Social Action.
Newfoundland Fishers to Belize
A proposal to send two or three inshore fishers to visit and learn about Belizean fishing communities and co-operatives was developed by the Newfoundland Committee in 1990. The budget for this proposal was les than $5,000 and it was felt that the Newfoundland committee could cover most of the cost, with Newfoundland co-operatives and the fishers making a contribution as well.
This project was not implemented, why not?????
Youth Sector Proposal
A proposal to select and intensively train Newfoundland and Belizean youth in leadership and other community development skills was developed in 1988 by members of the Belize and Newfoundland committees. Cash funds were sought, as were in-kind contributions.
This project was not funded.
Capacitation for Development
In 1987, SPEAR submitted a proposal for financial assistance to help it carry out a program of popular education, organization building, and income generation for various groups throughout Belize. The project was to last for three years, and the first year's budget was estimated at approximately $257,000 although it would be less for the last two years.
Where was it submitted and what were the results?
Hopkins Fishermen's Co-op and Community Upgrading
In 1987, the Hopkin's Fishermen's Co-op sought the Linkage Committee's assistance in obtaining funds for making improvements to the co-op and the community of Hopkins.
Where was the application submitted and what were the results?
Hopkin's Multi-purpose Court and Sporting Equipment
In 1989, SPEAR and the Hopkins Youth Group developed an application for funds to construct a multi-purpose Court and to purchase sporting equipment for the young people of Hopkins.
Where was the application sent, and what happened to it?
Belize Youth Enterprise
A proposal to assist in community development through self-help projects was developed by a group in Dangriga.
Where was the proposal submitted, and what were the results??
The linkage committee has always been conscious of the need to utilize the public media. The media has been used to help increase the public profile of the committee and CUSO, to help attract participants to various public events, and to do development education work generally. Publicity has included interviews with the electronic media, articles in a variety of newspapers, newsletters, posters, flyers, and a feature article in the Canadian magazine Main Street. It also includes credits on several video projects that were sponsored by or otherwise had the involvement of the linkage committee.
The concept of the linkage came out of a Northern development institution, as part of its attempt to go beyond its traditional approaches. It largely developed within the institution, although increasingly in conjunction with non-CUSO volunteers in Newfoundland, and then in Belize. While the desire to pilot new approaches to development was legitimate and the linkage project was innovative, it did not address the needs of the local CUSO committee which had requested staff support for more traditional activities in development education, recruitment etc. Part-time staff was hired, but to work almost exclusively on the linkage project. The linkage project was not a priority of the local committee and the project did not receive the support it might have from that group.
There was confusion in Newfoundland over the respective roles of the local CUSO committee and the linkage committee, and over their relationship. CUSO did make some attempt in the early stages to identify organizational responsibilities, stating for example that the co-ordinating committees would be "responsible to the Regional Directors of CUSO respectively (Halifax Atlantic Regional office and the Jamaica FSO) for carrying out the day to day activities and communications necessary to meet the objectives and plan of action for the Project." Still, in the early phases of the project it was not clear about which committee was the main decision making body.
The fact that the concept of the linkage emanated from Ottawa, and not from the needs of individuals and/or institutions in Newfoundland or Belize meant that these individuals and institutions were not as committeed as they might have been, had the project been developed to meet their own particular needs. However, perhaps this is not a criticism (after all, if not for CUSO the project would not have begun at all), but a cautionary note about the difficulties involved in obtaining committment to someone else's idea. This was recognized, and the lengthy preparation time prior to the exchange visits was partly used to deal with the matter of building committment. However, this time could have, and probably should have been shorter, as there were periods, for example between March and September of 1985 when very little was done with respect to the linkage. Belize had less preparation time (about one year in comparison to about three years in Newfoundland), and this was considered too short by the Belizeans.
The Belizeans felt that there were other inequalities or imbalances, including problems related to Belize part-time staff orientation, budgetary arrangements, and support services.
The exchange visits occured late in the process, and the co-ordinators' positions were terminated just after. As Ross says:
"If the visit had taken place in the early stages, exchange participants would likely have been much better able to involve others in their sector. They would have concrete experience, information and ideas to work with. The project co-ordinators could then have spent time doing follow up and long term planning with participants."
Perhaps another way to have achieved this would have been to continue the co-ordinators' employment for a longer term, at least until the project was well established. However, from the start, CUSO had viewed "the project" as being to establish the voluntary committee, and apparently from its point of view, "the project" was completed after the two exchange visits. So, with the co-ordinators gone, the project was left to volunteers, and the occasional involvement of CUSO Atlantic or Ottawa staff.
There were problems with the fact that although institutions or sectors had been identified early enough, the individual participants were not. The selection of delegates to visit Belize occured too late in the process and did not give some participants adequate time for orientation. The Belizean co-ordinators in particular, felt that there was not enough orientation on the concept of linkage, and on CUSO generally. Nor was sufficient time spent in rural Newfoundland areas.
CUSO committed itself to establishing a new form of volunteer group, as a pilot project. Whether CUSO was adequately committed to nurturing and facilitating the growth and progress of this group once formed is a matter needing some discussion. It saw its major "post project" role as being to facilitate communication, and it did provide administrative funding.
Channels of communication between Ottawa, Halifax, Newfoundland, Kingston, and Belize have not always been clear nor problem free. Problems were encountered at all levels, caused in part by confusion as to what the appropriate channels were, and who was responsible for what. At some points the Committees were not in close enough contact that each knew what the other was doing.
After a period in which we attempted to correspond almost exclusively on a committee to committee basis, communication frequently went individual to individual or sector to sector, although the substance of those discussions was generally communicated to, and discussed with the rest of the Newfoundland committee.
The Belize co-ordinators encountered problems with financial arrangements.
Not enough emphasis has been placed on evaluation, although the committees have been attempting for several years to arrange an evaluation meeting. This proposed meeting was scheduled and rescheduled many times because of changed personal and other circumstances. Some evaluations of particular pieces of work such as an exchange have been done and each committee has done some soul searching.
For several years the Newfoundland Committee had representation from Bell Island, but that person resigned due to other committments. His resignation left the Newfoundland Committee even more St. John's based and oriented. To counter this problem, the committee submitted a proposal to CUSO Atlantic for a grant of $1850, mainly to help it expand to other areas of the province.
The grant was received but work on expanding the committee was held up pending the evaluation and planning meeting now scheduled for January 1992.
Funding project proposals has been perhaps the major problem of the linkage committee. The early approach was to have CUSO help acquire project funds through such agencies as CIDA. Committee funds were regarded as seed funds, not for actually funding projects. This did not work, and after several frustrating attempts to obtain project funding, the Committees themselves funded smaller projects from their administrative grants from CUSO.
There could have been better documentation of the various pieces of work (such as the attempt to secure funds for projects) so that one could more precisely know exactly where unsuccessful attempts failed and how sucessful projects achieved their success.
The fact that SPEAR took on the role of co-ordinating the Belize committee's activities was both good and bad. It was good in that it provided the committee with a centre and with staff support. However, there were fears that because SPEAR was considered a political organization, this could also negatively influence the committee's success.
The Linkage Committee and CUSO
We have already seen that CUSO was instrumental in initiating and organizing the linkage committee, and we have briefly looked at its role in facilitating communication and providing administrative funding. But we also need to look at the linkage committee with reference to CUSO's aims and objectives. Technically, the relationship between CUSO and the linkage is a fuzzy one. CUSO provided funds to the committees on the understanding that they would be utilized in a certain way, and naturally the committees have those obligations. However, apart from that, one could argue that the linkage committees are free to move in their own directions, without reference to CUSO. This should be discussed at length at the evaluation meeting. Are the committees and CUSO compatible. Does the linkage help CUSO achieve its objectives? Is affiliation with CUSO good for thwe linkage? Is there a need to continue a relationship with CUSO? If so, what kind of relationship?