Thursday, September 23, 2010

Role model?

I'll write a proper post later about my trip this week, but I just wanted to tell this little story first:

At one of the schools we were visiting, the kids were especially friendly (and very excited about having their photos taken, even though they didn't smile for the picture).  They were hanging around and playing while we were trying to inspect the water tank our partner is building for the school, and one of my colleagues told me that the boys were teasing a couple of the girls (who chose not to be in the picture), telling them that they should study hard so that they could grow up to have a fancy job like me.

I never thought of myself as being a role model like that, especially not just by showing up, but it was really nice. So I told the girls that the boys were right, if they study hard they could get a job like mine too.  I told them my (maternal) grandparents were from poor farming families (these kids are pastoralists, but close enough, they can relate), but they worked hard and my parents were able to go to school and become teachers (which, besides nurses, is the highest status profession the kids come into contact with on a regular basis), and they worked hard and helped me get a good education, and now I'm a diplomat/aidworker.

So that's my happy little story for the day.  I'll write about the rest of my trip soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Elephants and giraffes

Yesterday I went to the elephant orphanage and giraffe center on the outskirts of Nairobi.  I got to see lots of cute baby elephants and feed a giraffe out of my hand.  I really wish I could ride a giraffe, and I asked if that's possible anywhere, but the guide said giraffes are too sensitive and won't stand being touched, much less ridden. Too bad.  But here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure!

I'm going on another monitoring trip this week to check on some more drought relief projects.  Should be interesting!

Friday, September 10, 2010

This is what I do in my job

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time reading quarterly reports from our partners.  For example, last year OFDA (the office I work in) gave money to several NGOs (non-profits) to do projects in areas of Kenya that were affected by drought, to help people survive without hopefully having to migrate or sell off all their assets (mostly animals) to be able to buy food.  And now, every three months the partners have to send us reports telling us how the projects are going and what they've accomplished.  So I've been spending the last few weeks reading the reports, making sure that the partners are doing what we agreed they would do at the beginning, that the projects are more or less on track, and that overall US taxpayers' dollars are being well spent.

Also, I go to a lot of meetings.  Lately, a lot of the meetings have been about the weather and forecasts - for example, what regions have had good rains and therefore have had a good growing season for crops and subsequently the people are better nourished, and what areas haven't had good rains (or have had too much rain which caused flooding), leading to poor crops and malnourishment.  And then all this information helps us to figure out where people are in need and where we should be implementing projects.

So that's a snapshot of my life in the office.  I'll be going out on another project monitoring trip in a few weeks, inshallah.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures from my trip last weekend to Lamu, an ancient Swahili town on the Kenyan coast:

You can see more pictures here.  Credit for all the best photos goes to Diana.