CONSIDERING…THE OTHER

DSCN0581I was recently in conversation with an old friend, brother and prolific South African Film-maker Teddy Mattera. (PS: If you haven’t seen his movie Max and Mona, please do! It’s the funniest South African comedy I’ve seen ever – I laughed so hard I cried, which in my books is the best way to have a laugh!) . We were talking about race, the colour bar and Otherness. He was sharing a story of how he just didn’t know which box to tick when confronted with an official form asking him to define his race: –black-white-indian-coloured-other. We laughed. In the end he said he ticked all the boxes, including the “other” Box.   I have often find myself routinely ticking the “other” box just to have fun with myself, change my mind, think something else  because we all know how hard it can be to remove a label once it has be firmly burnt on your back like a tattoo. Thinking can sometimes be a heavy burden to carry, as everything has to be “analyzed” but it’s also fun because how else would we discover new things, new methods and concepts? How else would we progress and change if we didn’t begin by thinking or “considering” others (ness), other things, thoughts and concepts. But we don’t have to be high-brow about it – it being the act of thinking. Thinking can be basic, and I will henceforth replace the words to think with consider, because that is a much nicer-calmer way of thinking – considering. So let’s do consider the other. What does  it actually mean to be the “other”, let’s define the word:

Other (adjective/pronoun)

  1. Used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.
  2. Further; additional i.e. “one other word of advice” synonyms: more, further, additional , extra, added, supplementary, supplemental

Other (verb)

  1. View or treat a person or group of people as intrinsically different from and alien to one- self.
  2. Alternative of two: the Other  side of the street
  3. That which is distinct from, different from, or opposite to something or oneself.

Makes one wonder doesn’t it? Well I think who ever needs to keep records should just do away with all of the existing boxes and leave the OTHER as the only box to tick. We are already so different, so other than the boxes we are meant to fit into, the “Other” box seems to me to be the only box that is appropriate for everyone. We all are the other to each other.

So it with pleasure that I introduce to you a new grant making and fund-raising organization which also shares some of my ideas of otherness…

THE OTHER FOUNDATION

A NEW FUND FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND LGBTI ORGANIZATIONS WORKING  IN AFRICA.

The Other Foundation has issued a call for grant applications from human rights and LGBT organizations in Africa to access funding. The Other foundation is a joint initiative by Atlantic Philanthropies and HIVOS who have a long LGBTI donor history in Africa. The call comes as Atlantic philanthropies one of the largest grants making organization in the world, announced that it will be spending down with an aim of closing down the fund within the next seven years.  The foundation issued the call during its outreach meetings in South Africa’s three major cities Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, earlier this month.  The fundraising and grant making organization’s main objective is to break the cycle of dependency on international donors by creating self-sustaining and independent civil society organizations in Africa.

The Other Foundations’ Phumi Mtethwa says the fund is now accepting proposals for four types of grants to civil society organizations and individuals working in Africa for the 2014 financial year.  The Namaqualand Daisy aimed at individuals who work with Human Rights issues in the Arts for up to 10 thousand rands. The Inyosi or Honeybee for community based organizations for 50 thousand rands, the fish eagle fund to support civil society organization working on 12- 24 month projects for up to 200 thousands rand and the Umbrella Thorn Tree Grant for up to 500 thousand rands.

The Foundation is also accepting application for Peer Review body which will assess all applications to ensure that they meet the criteria

“The launch of the Other Foundation has been a seven-year long process. We conducted a three-year preliminary investigation into the viability of the foundation, and have spent the last year appointing board members with a lot of experience working within the non-governmental sector and in LGBTI organizations” She said during a presentation to LGBTI activists in Constitution Hill. “Our main objectives is to break the cycle of dependency by civil society organizations on International donors by encouraging individual giving and raising funds from local businesses”

“We are currently exploring different models for funding. Those include pledges by individuals and businesses, including the establishment of the organizational stockvel model where civil society organizations make monthly contributions to help support each other’s projects on a rotational basis. Other models include raising funds from government organizations and corporates”

“ Part of this outreach programs is to engage with community based civil society  organizations with a strong focus on advancing LGBTI rights on the different models, for ideas and suggestions on how the fund  can help them continue with the work they are already doing with a view to making it more sustainable”

Organizations present at the meeting included the GALA, the gay and Lesbian Archive project, ActionAid and others who raised a number of concerns including how the fund will issue grants to LGBTI initiatives or project in countries where they don’t have legal status.

The Other Foundation said it would work in collaboration with pre-existing human rights organizations who would then act as intermediaries and as mentors for the grant. The Foundation will be based in South Africa from where it hopes to generate most of its funding, but the grants will extend to six other countries in Southern Africa.

“The Foundation is currently interviewing for the position of a CEO, who will then spear head the process of fund-raising and grant making. We have received 38 applications so far and should issue out a formal call for proposals after a suitable candidate for the position of CEO have been appointed” She said. If you are starting to feel like the “other” in this context, don’t despair: Membership and Grant making is not restricted to South African only or to LGBTIs only.  So you are free to apply.

For more information on the Other Foundation please contact:  info@theotherfoundation.org or visit their website: http://www.theotherfoundation.org

Phumi Mtetwa @otf.co.za

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