Publication Date

2002

Abstract

This paper explores the author's experience of working with an AIDS Service Organization in rural Zimbabwe. The organization, Lubhancho House, is funded and partially managed by a large international non-governmental/non-profit organization called Catholic Relief Services, whose headquarters is in the United States. During the practicum period, the author worked as a Project Assistant alongside the HIV/AIDS Project Coordinator and helped manage the ongoing AIDS projects scattered throughout Zimbabwe. It was during this time that the author was able to experience firsthand the problems and issues facing Lubhancho House. Many of the problems are a direct result of mismanagement. The coordinator and director of Lubhancho House, both Catholic nuns and foreigners to Zimbabwe, contributed greatly to the dysfunction of the organization. This paper takes an in-depth look at some of the factors as to why Lubhancho House could not function properly including cultural insensitivity on the part of the leaders of the organization and improper management of the employees as well as factors which were outside the control of the organization. Following an examination of why Lubhancho House was experiencing severe difficulty, the author will make suggestions as to how the management can change its style and perhaps have a functioning AIDS service organization in a country where its services are desperately needed. Included in these conclusions are the proper recognition needed by workers (paid or unpaid) of an AIDS service organization, which should be provided by the managing staff. These workers are paid little if anything to carry out emotionally draining work; they need all the support they can get. Another important conclusion that is discussed is the crucial importance of cultural sensitivity and cross-cultural understanding in overseas development work. The success of development work at the community level can fail miserably or thrive magnificently depending on the relationship between individuals and their different cultural backgrounds.

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