News: Kirkuk office of public diplomacy holds non-governmental organization conference
Story by Spc. Karla Elliott
By Spc. Karla P. Elliott
11th Public Affairs Detachment
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq – Laying the foundation for growth and prosperity in Northern Iraq, a group of non-governmental organization representatives came together to tackle some of the primary hurdles along the route leading to a more vibrant, prosperous future for the people of Kirkuk.
The Office of Public Diplomacy for the Kirkuk Provincial Reconstruction Team organized a meeting to bring local non-profit and community organizations together to discuss community issues at the Kirkuk Government Building in Kirkuk City, Iraq, Jan. 30.
Addressing a group of more than 200 NGO representatives, Sri Kulkarni, the public diplomacy officer with the Kirkuk PRT, said, "By the end of the day, our goal is that we all will have learned something about better organization, transforming our raw ideas for fixing problems into solid, specific plans for executing solutions, and then finding multiple ways of getting the resources we need to put our plans into action."
This event provided organization representatives time to network with others and discuss issues in the local community.
"[This workshop] allows organizations who are concerned with the same problems to meet each other and begin to talk about their lessons learned," said Kulkarni.
Kulkarni also said the meeting allows them to share different ways they have tried to address the problems of this province, and "how they can work together to come up with joint projects to deal with the serious issues here, not as Turkomen or Kurds, Shi'a or Sunni, men or women, but as Kirkukis and Iraqis."
Several members of the PRT also attended the workshop to provide experience, information and training.
"Our goal here is not to provide funding for any individual project, but to build a community of organizations that can find multiple ways of providing for themselves," Kulkarni said.
The first strategic conference for NGO representatives to gather and discuss issues with each other was held in November 2008.
"These NGO meetings are usually held once a week with different NGO groups to help with their plans and operations," said 1st Lt. Jack Gaines, public affairs officer with PRT, Office of Public Diplomacy. "[Our] staff also visits NGO work sites to see how their work in the field is progressing."
After more than three months of weekly meetings, these workshops have slowly evolved.
"Previous seminars focused on the concepts of being an NGO, capacity building and community outreach," Gaines said. "This conference was more technical, discussing grant processes, writing and management, as well as how to build networks and umbrella organizations."
"Our major success for this conference is that more than 80 people stayed until the end of the seminar because it reflects that there are still many people out there more concerned with learning than getting money," said Abdulrahman Mohammed, NGO program manager with the Kirkuk PRT.
Another NGO conference is scheduled for Feb.7, in Hawija, Iraq, west of Kirkuk City. This will be the Hawija District's first conference of this type held in their area to discuss local district issues and how local organizations can assist the people.
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