Some definitions/explanations to begin, so I can use abbreviations from here on!
CHFL: Caprivi Hope for Life, the Namibian organization where I am working
PACT: the funder of CHFL’s current program (right now we only have one, though a second will be starting in June), PACT is actually an organization focused on building the capacities of local organizations around the world (hmm, that’s *my* mission, maybe I oughta be working for them?)
CLAAHA: our big program — Community Led Actions Against HIV & AIDS
USAID: the United States Aid agency. They are funding PACT who is funding us. They are also the funder of our upcoming project in which we are a subcontractor to SFH
SFH: Society for Family Health
MARP: Most at risk populations. An HIV & AIDS program term generally referring to marginalized, highly at-risk groups including sex workers, truck drivers, men who have sex with men (MSM), prisoners, etc.
PLWHA: People living with HIV & AIDS
So, last week was a very full and interesting week at work. Monday morning began with a meeting in which SFH laid out their new program focusing on reaching out to MARPs. The program will be throughout Namibia and here in Caprivi, CHFL has been chosen as their implementing partner. This is actually the 2nd or 3rd phase of this program and CHFL has been working with SFH for several years. The other participants in this presentation were from the Ministry of Health & Social Services, Katima town council, the police department and a couple other local NGOs. The meeting included a wonderfully frank and open discussion of what we know about the practices & situation of local sex workers and men who have sex with men. It was actually pretty astonishing to me (in a really good way) to hear these folks talking so openly about these things which are usually completely taboo in Africa.
Monday afternoon, Otilie, our technical support person from PACT, arrived from Windhoek for her regular visit. So the rest of the weeks was quite packed. We started by reviewing the workplan since the last time she was in Katima which was revealing to me (and a bit disappointing in places). And then we went through her feedback on the semi-annual report which was due Friday. That needed a lot of work and we spent all of Tuesday and part of Wednesday rewriting it. Then we went to the field, which was excellent because I got to see what we are actually doing. We have promoters working in 3 villages around Katima: Liselo, Mahohoma and Masokotwani. They meet twice a month with 18 households, once a week with a support group of PLWHA and once a week with a youth group. The photos show a PLWHA support group meeting, another is of a household meeting. There’s a photo of one of our promoters, Cordelia, leading a discussion with the help of a Photo card and finally, a picture of a typical house, complete with the ubiquitous pack of dogs (who for the most part are quite docile, though the dog on the right here, Buddy, was a bit too friendly and kept wanting to jump on me).
Later in the week, we did a review of the budget, which again was crucial for me. I had looked at the document but found it rather hard to understand. But now I get it and even found some technical errors in the Excel file. In reviewing the budget, we had been given the opportunity to ask for more money if we needed it, which we did, so I put together a request for additional funds for us to pay for some meetings and staff who had recently gotten cut and to add some equipment and collateral material. We shall see if this is accepted. It would be very, very helpful.
Next week, we have a visit from USAID on Wednesday, so we will be preparing for that. And then hopefully we’ll go out to Masokotwani on Thursday for a field visit there. It is 80km away and requires hiring a taxi for the day. Friday is Good Friday which, along with Easter Monday, is a public holiday here. I thought I might go off somewhere, but I don’t really have any money. So now I’m just hoping I can get a spare CHFL bicycle by then so I can at least pedal around.