A brief encounter in La Boca

Our Deki Fellow, long-standing volunteer, all-around Deki Evangelist, Liz is the master of the brief encounter turned into fantastic opportunities for Deki. This is the story of how a chance conversation in South America turned into funding for Deki.

Liz Stagg
Deki Evangelist & First Fellow

On my way back from Antarctica I was spending a couple of days in Buenos Aires, exploring the city.

On my last day I was determined to get to the colourful district of La Boca to see the multi-coloured houses near the port and to watch tango dancers in the street, despite the rain.

I had not appreciated that it was the day of a match – La Boca were playing at home in La Bombonera stadium and the area was cordoned off. Still determined to see it before I left I asked a policeman for directions. A young Dutch man beside me asked if he could join me on the walk. He was on a business trip, leaving the next day to visit the tea plantations further north.

Over a drink we talked about life and work – as you do. I told him about my adventurous crossing of the Drake Passage in a Force 9 gale, of observing penguins carrying rocks to build a nest, of awe-inspiring icescapes and about the voluntary work I do for Deki. He told me about the global corporation he works for which trades commodities from 80 countries around the world (including tea from Malawi where I was Deki’s first Fellow) and about living in Canada.

He knew about microloans and said he would be glad to put me in contact with a sister company’s foundation – The Catz Foundation - which supports projects which help people become independent through their own endeavours.

As I left La Boca I walked against a surging tide of fans in their blue and yellow shirts, singing their rallying chants ahead of the match.

Back in the UK I wrote to his colleague – the Secretary of the Catz Charity Foundation and we discussed the potential for collaboration. Rowan, our International Programmes and Fundraising manager and I discussed which field partner projects would be most suitable for funding. We concluded that IADES, in Togo, who work in diverse areas such as healthcare, livelihood development, solar power and biogas would provide the best synergy.

We submitted a funding proposal, requesting support for our work with IADES in Togo along with evidence of our application to the Department of International Development to show our commitment to supporting those communities that don’t get international aid from elsewhere and are left behind.

I was delighted to get an email stating that, following the most recent board meeting of the Catz Foundation, Deki’s funding proposal had been approved and that they are also considering future support for Deki.

I always say “travel in hope, not expectation, with an open mind and you never know who you will meet and where it can lead you”.


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