I had the unexpected pleasure of receiving two invitations to NGO parties this week. They came from two organisations that have influenced Daraja in fundamental ways, both of which are have significant anniversaries to celebrate - HakiElimu is ten years old (and still energising Tanzania), and Restless Development is 25.
In ten years, HakiElimu has pushed the boundaries for civil society activity in Tanzania, forging the space that Daraja now occupies working on accountability and citizens' agency. More particularly, HakiElimu's vividly effective demonstration of the power of information and the media to deliver change was the inspiration behind much of what Daraja is now doing.
And Restless Development, now a very different organisation from that which was formed as Schools Partnership Worldwide 25 years ago, has evolved into a world leader in youth development. More than any other organisation I know, they demonstrate how passionate commitment and professionalism can co-exist in a happy partnership. And on a personal note, the six years I spent at SPW (as it then was) were hugely formative for me personally and I remain very grateful for the opportunities they gave me.
The NGO world has its share of armchair critics, cynically dismissing organisations and projects on the basis of often pretty minor differences in ideology or approach. I've been as guilty of that as anyone. So lets take these two anniversaries as an opportunity to redress the balance and applaud these two organisations for their many achievements. Congratulations to them both, and we wish them continued success with their valuable and inspiring work.