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Stanborough Park, Watford, WD25 9JZ, England - Registered charity 1074937 (SCO37726, IOM1101)


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Tick Tock...Tick Tock...Two hours to go…

Nothing like a deadline to tune the senses and focus the mind. Were there to be still two weeks before the deadline, we would still be trying to improve the approach of the project. If we had three days left, we would still be adjusting activities. If we had but a day, we could still streamline justifications, sharpen the arguments and highlight past experiences.

Tick Tock...Tick Tock...We were Skyping

… from 3 different continents, gathering ADRA colleagues, project partners and consultants. It was all about the challenge of reflecting the described activities in a comprehensive budget, showing a viable balance between deliveries and cost recovery.

Tick Tock...Tick Tock...90 minutes to go

Final tasks have been assigned. Versions of the log frame, the narrative, and the budget are being thrown back and forth to be completed, adjusted and finalised.

60 minutes to go

We’ve done our bit, but colleagues are still working.

There is silence...

...then occasionally the odd question on Skype, Zinc, WhatsApp: what was last year’s turnover, when were we registered in the UK?

Short responses.



The rhythm accelerates.

30 minutes to go...

There are no audible sirens, but it’s time to submit. It’s the culmination of months of work on different time zones and with a number of agencies. From exploratory talks to teaming agreements. From needs assessments to the formulation of targets and indicators. All has come together now, on the force of the last two sleepless nights.

I check my phone constantly. We are dangerously approaching our deadline. After 4pm no submission will be eligible. There are no more notifications. Only silence.


I put the kettle on, nothing like the preparation of a hot drink to slow down time. The storm of the boiling water momentarily transports me to a calmer world. I think of the beneficiaries, the people behind the facts and the figures. What will this project mean to them? Will it bring them opportunities, hope for the future?

4:05 and nothing...

On other occasions, by this time, I’d received an email saying ‘all is well,’ ‘proposal submitted’, ‘reception acknowledged’. 

4:10 still silence...

At 4:15, I text: “Any news? Did you manage to submit?” I expect the answer to be yes, that they were just about to send an email to tell it to everybody else.

But no…

...and then the whole story comes out in a convoluted call. They started to submit at 3:40, that is, pressing the button. But office emails bounced back. So they tried personal emails, partner emails, but each one bounced.

One email only did not bounce back. The snag was, it was timed 4:01. Was this the end?

We needed a miracle here, so we turned to the God of miracles. He was there all the time, but we may have been too busy to notice Him. Now, He is all around…

We call our potential funder on all the numbers we have -  no answer. We send emails explaining our ordeal - no answer. We have now to do the most difficult thing. Tell it to everybody, the partners and the sleepy colleagues.

When all seems lost and we are about to stop pressing buttons, our funder picks up a call from a very anxious ADRA staff member.

- ‘Oh yes, I am so sorry, there has been a technical glitch on our side with our email server. Would you be so kind as to re-submit?’ 

By Helia Mateus