The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) has held its first conference for African partner organisations from 22-26 November 2007. The conference, entitled 'Strength to Strength', wss held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Representatives from 29 local partner organisations based in 11 African countries took part.
There was a packed schedule of workshops on issues such as HIV/AIDS, advocacy, sustainable agriculture and financial planning, but most importantly there were also opportunities for delegates to share their own stories, advice and experiences with one another. Those closer to home were able find out the latest news from the Strength to Strength daily blog, available at www.mrdf.org.uk  .
Francis Njuakom travelled from Cameroon to attend the conference. He is the director of an MRDF partner organisation that runs social and income-generating clubs for poor and isolated elderly people.
He said beforehand: “It will be such a lovely and enriching experience to have MRDF's most trusted partners across Africa to come together and share the magic of differences that we are all using in our various organisations to transform lives and communities.”
Margaret Nakato is the co-ordinator of a women’s development project in rural Uganda. She explains why she feels that this conference has been so important: “I believe when there is face to face interaction, people relax and get to know each other better. In the process they share a lot of information about themselves and the work they are doing. Some of this will be unique and provide new insights.”
MRDF Director Kirsty Smith, says: “Good financial management or strategic planning may not sound very glamorous, compared to buying goats or sinking wells, but only well run, financially sound organisations can improve the lives of poor communities in the long term. Training events, like this conference, help ensure that money from our supporters is well managed and that programmes are delivered by well equipped and trained staff. By sharing skills and resources, we can all become stronger.”