No EWB project can or should be completed without the support of the local government (or municipality). We had a signed contract from the previous year confirming their support in our project, but new figures had been voted in since our last visit. The importance of having their support was the difference in a successful project and a bust.
We were prepared for the worst when we met with them on Wednesday. Countless stories of corrupt or uninterested foreign governments put a shadow over us. We had a meeting scheduled with the new mayor (big-cheese), and his sub-cheese and couldn’t help feel anxious as to how the conversation would unfold.
We arrived at 9:00 am and were ushered in to the mayor’s room. An entourage of other cheese’s followed. We had a specific agenda on how to direct the conversation, and had practically written on algorithm on worst-case scenarios.
But it turned out simple, they wanted our contract that the previous government had signed (so they could resign it), and they wanted numbers (money, material volume, etc.). We gave them the contract and a particularly capable Secretary General rewrote the contract. We looked over it to assure hers matched ours, gave them the numbers, got their signatures, shared gifts, gained their trust, and departed. All told we likely spent two hours in their building.
The support of the local government as they start a new term is imperative. It was important to us that we leave not just with their signatures, but with their support and friendship. I am not an expert on Peruvian culture, but I think that when we exchanged gifts it showed our commitment to the community as people, and not just a resume bullet-point. As the project implementation approaches we look forward to working with our new friends at the municipality!
– Michael Slusser