Welcoming Our 2016 Scholarship Winners


Welcoming Our 2016 Scholarship Winners

Recipients of the 2015 scholarship included: Laurean Bwanakunu of the Ariel Glaser Pediatric AIDS Healthcare Initiative; Maki Katoh of The Center for Victims of Torture; Lucy Fulgence Silas, of D-Tree International; and Dr. Bitra George of FHI 360.

By Alexia Kime

As a global association of diverse international development and relief organizations, Humentum is committed to supporting collaboration and networking among its members. One way we do this is by offering a small number of scholarships each year to our annual conference, to members overseas who might not otherwise be able to attend. Nominated by their colleagues and selected via a raffle, the winners receive a free registration to the conference as well as a travel and lodging stipend.

This year, five scholarships were awarded; two to practitioners in Kenya; and one each to professionals in Ethiopia, India, and Uganda. Among those selected were Country Director Rakhi Bhatacharya of Lutheran World Relief in India and Head of Operations & Finance James Mwangi of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO Jitolee) in Kenya.

I asked Ms. Bhatacharya and Mr. Mwangi to share a little bit about the exciting work that they and their respective organizations do and what they’re looking forward to at the 2016 Humentum Annual Conference, Achieving Global Impact. Read on to find out!

Q: On a day-to-day basis, what are some of the roles and responsibilities that you take on within your organization?

Rakhi Bhatacharya: [At LWR], I lead the country team with supervisory responsibilities of staff team, staff development, country strategy planning, annual operational planning and budgeting. Also in my position, I provide technical oversight to partnership program in project design, management (programmatic and financial) and monitoring. I am also responsible for exploring new business development opportunities, including identifying and reaching out to potential donors, technical partners for strategic collaborations for new development programs aimed at upscaling current programs or expanding outreach (geography and communities). In my representation role, I represent the organization at various meetings /events of national networks (e.g., Action by Churches Together etc.), of peer agencies and of technical partners. With a background in gender and organization management/development, I also facilitate training for partner organizations when there is need.

James Mwangi: [With VSO Jitolee], I am the lead reference point on all financial and operational matters in the country office, including formulating financial strategic direction and supporting the country director to assess implications of financial issues. I am responsible for ensuring that the internal control environment is robust enough to deter or detect any fraudulent attempts/occurrences; I review and contextualize the finance and design a mechanism of ensuring all staff acquire knowledge of these policies and procedures and ensure compliance by all; I play a leading role in ensuring effective grant management, planning, and monitoring, and I take a lead on all audits (internal, external, or donor project specific). Additionally, I manage IT, administration, procurement, and finance staff within the department.

Q: What do you like best about the work of your organization and what you do?

RB: We try to reach out to the most vulnerable and underserved communities with program deliverables that can be measured. Also, we are challenged to think “outside the box” in programming and collaboration, which makes the job interesting.

JM: It’s great to contribute my skills towards the less fortunate people in society.

Q: What kind of professional development opportunities does your organization offer its employees?

RB: Lutheran World Relief provides opportunities for training and professional studies.

JM: JSO Vitolee provides study leave, professional membership subscriptions, on-the-job training, and secondments.

Q: This is the first time you will be attending Humentum’s Annual Conference. What are you most looking forward to? Do you have any expectations of learning or networking?

RB: Developing new contacts and networking.

JM: This conference will provide me an opportunity for networking with my peers, discovering Humentum programs, and learning the important role that operations staff play in advancing the work of mission-driven NGOs.

The three other scholarships this year were awarded to Country Director Zemedkun Joshua Alemayehu of Convoy of Hope International in Ethiopia; Regional HR Director Elizabeth Mutsami of Winrock International in Kenya; and Chief of Party Manohar Shenoy of John Snow Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) in Uganda.

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