Thursday, July 13, 2006

So I thought I'd post a little description of what I'm doing here, I should have done it awhile ago but better late than never.

ZOVFA, Zuuri Organic Vegetable
Farmers Association is a small local NGO in a smaller town that you'll
never find on the maps, although that's where I live. I'm about 100m
away from the office which is great, no commute, although they said me
to use a bicycle to get to work because they said the walk was too
far. All the staff have motorcycles and live in towns near by or along
the roadside where there is electricity. I work with 9 staff although
I see only about 6 of them regularily as the others do field work
further away from Zuuri.

There are about 9 different projects that my NGO is involved in but
since the staff overlap so much and they are in different levels of
implementation I do what I can. I'm working more right now in
capacity building with the staff itself and therefore the organisation
as a whole. I figured this would be more effective because all the
field officers are have great relationships with the farmers and
communities they work with.

The biggest constraint of the people I work with is their computer
skills. They all hand write reports, budgets, proposals and then hand
them to the accounts officer who has his own work. Often the only
reason things are late is because they didn't get typed or formatted.
I found out about a government communication centre with computers in
it and have set up training from 5-7 3 nights a week for the ZOVFA
staff. It is great fun, especially when someone laughs hysterically
when all the letters disappear because they have rested on the return
key :) I am working on a proposal between ZOVFA and the centre to
purchase bulk hours a month so that the staff can come in and work on
their reports. First though I need to build their skills in
computers, most of whom have never used one, so that they can actually
do their administrative work.

I really love the people I work with, they are such good friends and
so sincere. They call it the ZOVFA family

I also trained the staff on how to use their digital camera that they
got through a project to improve reporting. Unfortunately the NGO
that provided the camera did not provide training on how to use it or
appropriate batteries. I'm still doing an evaluation of the training
to see if the staff have all the skills to take great pictures and
download them into the computer.

I've also been assisting in writing some strongly worded assertive
letters to various Big NGO parteners such as Oxfam and Technoserve.A
lot of time the way the project is run is driven by the mandates of
bigger NGOs and donors and not by the common sense, past experience
and local understanding of smaller NGOs. The letters are letting some
of the bigger NGOs know that their practices are not always the best
practices for the implementation of the local NGO.

Hopefully, I'll be working on establishing a filing system for the
office. Right now a lot of the program files don't have a place to go
so hopefully we can figure things out a little bit. It's pretty time
consuming work though and not high on my motivation list....filing
dusty files blah!

I'm also running a facilitation workshop near the end of July, it
keeps getting pushed back :) But I think now the dates are set
because I've requested the food to be made. The meetings here tend to
go on forever!! without a break. I don't know how much of that I can
change but at least it's a start.


At 7:09 p.m., Anonymous Mom said...

Hi Samina: Thank you for the info re your work and the struggles teaching both your fellow workers, plus international agencies. I sure hope some good comes from it. If most people are worried that is they say something negative, then the aid will stop, of course, nothing will change. So kudos to you. Just over a month left, so you have your work cut out for you. Keep working and striving as I know you will. Lots of love, Mom

At 6:16 a.m., Blogger Megan said...

Hi Samina!

Just catching up on your blog from a small city in the mountains of the southern Philippines. The internet is great ;)

Sounds like you're having an amazing experience, although I can totally relate to the frustration of 'small daily disasters'. It's so cool that you've got such a tight bond with your co-workers and have been able to find the areas in which you can really help build capacity. Good work! I guess you're heading home soon, so I hope that goes smoothly! I'll catch up with you in Canada!

At 11:31 a.m., Blogger Myriam said...

Samina - I'm so glad you were able to connect and really be productive. It takes a while to familiarize yourself with the different systems and structures, or lack there of in some cases. I know my time here is not in vain but I'm so eager to "do" and I'm very much an observer/learner for now. Have a good flight back home! Take care and say hi to Adam!


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