Okay, I am soon going to revive this blog, though I will need to “feel out” what I will be focusing on as I write here. For the moment however, an update on me personally.
After four long months back in the US (after leaving my job with IRC in Lubumbashi, DR Congo), I am finally returning to Africa. I thought I would be going to Kenya for a great (and paying) job there, but we discovered that the program there in Kenya is not ready for me — essentially they were hiring me to expand the program, but the program is not yet sustainable using its current model. I still hold out hope that this will come to pass, because the work both fits my deepest philosophy about what actually works and will work to empower local Africans (and people everywhere) and they need my skills and experience. We shall see. BTW, the organization is called Global Community Africa.
So, I’m freezing cold, homeless, I’ve depleted my savings, I’m bored — what to do? I know I need to get out of the US for so many reasons. . .
Luckily, I had initiated the process to re-volunteer with CUSO-VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). I had been offered a great posting, but turned it down in favor of the Kenyan job. Thinking my opportunity had passed, I re-contacted them just to see if it was still possible and the post was still open! However, the timeline is very short.
That brings us up to today.
It’s not all 100% finalized yet (the partner organization needs to read my CV and accept me), though everyone seems completely confident that it will be. Here’s the scoop:
I will be going to Namibia, to work with a young HIV/AIDS support organization in the Caprivi area (do they call them districts? provinces?), in the town of Katima Mulilo. The name of the organization is Caprivi Hope for Life. They are a new partner with VSO-Namibia and so my assignment will be to do the initial assessment of what is so and help them design their organizational development plan. This is the same sort of work I did with NWADO and several other organizations in Cameroon. Depending on how quickly the assessment moves along, I’ll probably also get started doing the development they need, particularly in areas like finance/budgeting, general management, HR, etc. Caprivi Hope for Life is currently doing primarily sensitization work (education about HIV/AIDS) but they would like to move into doing support for people living with HIV.
I really enjoyed doing this work in Cameroon, so I am very much looking forward to the work. But I am also very happy to be working with an HIV/AIDS organization, especially in southern Africa where the pandemic has hit the hardest. I think Namibia is just behind South Africa in terms of infection rates and the Caprivi region, being on a major trucking route, has been the most effected. Something like 30% of pregnant women are testing HIV+. I’ve wanted to work in this field since my time in Uganda.
You can look up Katima Mulilo on Google Maps or Google Earth. It is up in the northeast corner of Namibia, on the small part that sticks in between Zambia and Botswana. The town itself is on the river and the border with Zambia. It is not very far from Victoria Falls (yeah! one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit!).
When is all this happening? Very, very soon. I will either be on a plane or actually there in three weeks. On 10 March, I go to Ottawa for a training (SKWID – Skills for Working in Development) and then I leave directly after that. I have a LOT, LOT, LOT to do before then. Today, I hope to pick up 4 boxes of my “personal effects” which have been slowly returning from the DR Congo. There remain 2 boxes outstanding after four months. Very aggravating. So, I’ll see what I have, sort out what I don’t need or want anymore and pack up two bags to take with me. Plus there are dental and medical appointments, a police check, some equipment to buy, forms to fill out, etc.
On top of that, I’m training to run a Spring marathon (thanks Fleet Feet marathoners for giving me something to maintain my sanity!). I had wanted to actually get rid of most of my belongings — all the stuff I currently have in storage which I now realize I will never use again — but I’m not sure if that is going to happen.
There you have it.