The health center in Permet has the bare bones of a normal Albanian office. There are a few desks, plenty of health education pamphlets, posters and a few broken chairs. Which they keep anyway, and resulted in me almost falling on my butt, more than a few times in the beginning. Now I know which chairs are the good ones and make a beeline for them in the morning. I like to think of this as progress.
At the beginning of July, with my office in mind, I hunkered down in front of my fan and wrote a grant. I decided to apply for a SPA grant, which is one of the two types of grants that Peace Corps offers to it’s volunteers. I was hoping to obtain a few more supplies for my coworkers, that would enable them to join the technology world. I did some research and decided upon a laptop, projector and printer that is available in Tirana. This would open many doors for my coworkers to deliver health lessons to the people of Permet. But importantly, to branch out and give lessons to the surrounding villagers. My excitement seemed to fade as I turned through page after page of this grant. For a good chunk of the first hour, I ended up just staring at my computer screen.
This was my first ever grant writing experience. I am not going to lie, I had no idea what I was doing. We had a conference at the end of last year that helped lay out the process of grant writing. I was still confused. After a few phone calls to a fellow volunteer, I had finished about half of my grant. Which was followed by more confusion and computer glitches. Did I mention that I had no idea what I was doing?
Working in a third world country, grant writing is unavoidable and should definitely be taken advantage of by volunteers. Even as I struggled through section after section, I felt great about making progress towards getting my office a computer. After finishing the price sections (the worst part), I ended my week long process of writing my first grant. After hitting submit, I felt my hopes surge and couldn’t wait to tell my coworkers about it.
Just as I was getting situated upon my high horse, I heard back from the grant committee and was told that my grant wouldn’t be funded.
The committee made a few great points about flaws in my project proposal and ideas on how to improve it. They also made suggestions on follow up projects that I could do instead of focusing on supplies for my office. The next round of grants happens in October and I will be brainstorming a few different ideas until then. After all, this wouldn’t be the Peace Corps, or life for that matter, if everything worked out on the first try.