Saturday, June 24, 2006

Just a few comments

Namaste from Kathmandy where I have already spent five fantastic days. Since the next couple of weeks will be filled with new impression and knowledge – I will start learning Sanskrit – as well as a lot of late nights watching football, I fear that there will be little time for this log – I am sure we will all survive though ;-)

I just wanted to thank all of you who wrote me on mail, SMS, through this blog or telepathies to wish me a happy birthday. It really means a lot to me so thank you for that.

Besides from that I wish to answer a question/complaint I have had from a few of you: NO, there will be no dirt on this blog – my parents are reading it!!! Besides I must admit that I do expect to spent most of my time working and not chasing microscopic small Asian men ;-)

To those of you who have become addicted to news from my social life I have one thing to say: "Show me yours and I will show you mine!" – through e-mail, please!!!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Birthday Girl!!!

…and then I turned 30 – and I have to admit that it feels pretty good to become a grown-up!!!

My birthday was celebrated with a combined farewell/birthday party Friday night. The party was a big success – partly because of the way too strong (read: effective) welcome drink made by Per – thanks for that, Per!

The following day was spent saying goodbye to my colleagues, who are now spread all over Africa and Latin America – also I did spend some time recovering from the night before. Thanks to a days rest I was kinda okay Sunday morning, which was rather lucky since I was woken before 8 with morning singing! It was a nice surprise from Rikke and Sara and I was even more surprised when I opened the door and found it sealed with paper that I then had to jump through (see pix). Apparently it is a tradition somewhere (any knows from where – help me!) to jump into your birthday. A bit hard way to start a Sunday morning – especially the Sunday when you are turning 30!!!

The rest of the day was nice and relaxed; breakfast with Rikke, Sara and Renuka. Lunch in Moshi followed by beer and football at night. Sara was also nice enough to let me win a few games of pool – a game I never really learnt…..

Monday Sara and I went to Arusha to visit the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where Sara previously worked as an intern. It was extremely interesting to witness a trial in court, looking at some of the generals who were behind the genocide in 1994.

Later that day we said goodbye to Africa and started our journey to see you in Nepal!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Extracurricular activities

Well, the three week long course in Tanzania has now come to an end. It has been a great course and I must admit, that I have learned more than expected. Especially the activities that took place outside of the class room were very interesting and educational. Let me share a few with you:

Car maintenance
Even though I have tried to convince MS that I will be fine with just a bicycle there is no way around it – I am getting a huge 4WD truck. At least MS has been smart enough to offer a 4-hour session in car maintenance. And I can now claim that there is nothing that I don’t know about a 4WD truck. We tried to change a wheel (and those are a lot heavier than normal wheels), check the oil both here and there including the oil filter (apparently the mechanic will tell that he has changed it, when actually he hasn’t), we also learned how to use the 4WD and went down to the pit to have a look and explanation about the bottom of the car – I almost became interested in mechanics!!! So now I am ready to become a driver in Nepal – how that turns out I will let you know...

Becoming a Masai sister
During the course we also visited a Masai village. The Masai is a very well-known nomadic tribe living in Kenya and Tanzania. They have managed to “resist” influence from other cultures and therefore in many ways live as they did 100 years ago. We visited the village because a local organization, HiMS, worked with the community there – the following week we did a consultancy job for them.
It was an interesting experience where we had the chance of playing tourist getting really close to a Masai village and where they got a big donation from us – so everybody was happy. It caused great excitement when I told them that I was going to Nepal to work with similar women groups and when the official part of the visit was over I was giving a Masai necklace. I was told that this was a sign of me now being a Masai sister and that I would always be a part of them now. All together a great afternoon.

Working with HiMS
As mentioned we used the last days of the course trying out some of the technics we had learned. We were split into two teams who each visited a local help organisation. Our team was to work with HiMS ( who worked with local groups in the communities. For the two day workshop 15 very committed women participated and they really worked hard. They had asked us to come and help them develop a organizational assessment tool – that is a tool to gain a common understanding of their organization and identify in which areas special attention is needed (capacity building). It was an interesting assignment and very relevant since I most likely will be working with this in Nepal. The workshop was quite successful and everybody gained from it. After that experience I am really looking forward to start my work in Nepal, since I am convinced that the women I will be working with there will be equally committed.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A technical note on my job….

As mentioned the holidays are over and work has started. I have to go through a longer introduction period, which starts with a 3 week course in Tanzania. In total we are 15 participants from different countries (Brazil, Denmark, Sweden, Malawi and Zimbabwe), all employed by MS around the globe. It is extremely exciting with so many nationalities and so many different experiences and opinions – all reflecting in the long discussion we take once in a while.

The course is very intensive, since all aspects of the work as a DW need to be covered. We have received training in PPA, LFA, PM&E, policy advocacy, gender mainstreaming, intercultural co-operation, OD/OCB, conflict management, facilitation techniques, etc.
Those of you working within development have – hopefully – heard of these concepts. For the rest of you; it is all about the different tools/methods useful in different stages of development work such as:
  • How to identify – with the beneficiaries (in my case women), which problems
    exist and what options there are to solve them
  • How to create a structure in a project
  • How to influence decision makers (politicians)
  • How to evaluate a project in co-operation with all stakeholders
  • And many, many more things……

My job title is: Organisational Capacity Building Advisor. This is naturally a very broad title, which is why my first task will be to sit down with the partner organisation and make an organisational analysis so that we together can identify the areas where the organisation needs capacity building, and where I can use my experience and expertise to help the organisation grow stronger. Confused? So am I, but hopefully that will change during the next couple of months…..

Monday, June 05, 2006

On safari

Well, you can’t go to Africa without going on a safari – so naturally I went. This time of year the big migration in Serengeti National Park takes place; more than 1.2 million zebras and wilder beasts seek north in the search of food. It was an amazing sight to see the many animals in one joint movement towards the horizon. It kind of reminded me of my own migration towards east in search of new fields to play on.....

Well, back to the safari….I went on a five day camping safari with three other mzungu’s (that is what they call white people in these parts of the world). The decision to go was made on a bus and despite – and maybe because – I had no idea of what I had agreed to (and paid an extreme amount for) it became a fantastic tour. During the five days we managed to visit Tarangire National Park, the Ngorongoro crater, Serengeti National Park and Lake Myanara. All parks are unique because of their diverse nature and concentration of animals and I certainly got what I came for. I didn’t get to see all of “The big five” though I saw four of them: elephant, giraffe, water buffalo and the lion – the leopards were hiding well. I also got to seeplenty of baby animals - everywhere there were little giraffes, zebras, lion cubs and tiny elephant and of course a lot of mini monkeys….

To camp in the middle of the famous Serengeti National Park was an amazing experience. The surroundings were quite rustic but a few strong beers helped and also gave me the courage to visit the toilets at the edge of the camp. We had been told to turn around should we see red eyes near the toilets, since there were hyenas in the area. Fortunately, we never saw any hyenas but we heard both them and the lions during the night. It wasn’t all scary though, one of the things I will remember the most from my night in Serengeti was the absolutely amazing star sky, I don’t think I have ever seen anything as beautiful.

The following night we camped at the Ngorongoro crater. It was extremely cold and once again a few strong beers seemed to be the answer – of the brand Safari naturally. This time we had an elephant visiting. At first we were quite entertained by its attempting to drink out of the water tank, however, the atmosphere quickly changed when the elephant started heading towards the place we were sitting. I think the guides found it quite amusing to observe a group of mzungu’s running confused around in different directions.

But everything good must come to an end and my holiday ended the same day as the safari. Our guide was kind enough to take me directly to the MS center in Usa River. Already in the reception did I run into “the real world” in the shape of MS’s HR director Lars, who interviewed me for this position. It was a bit surreal to come directly from land of lions to land of work, to see familiar faces and to step into a small piece of Denmark in the middle of Tanzania with private baths, internet on the rooms and delicious food – but you will get no complaints from me! For the next three weeks I will be here “training” to become a good development worker, but more about that later….