Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why I’m leaving my family for the next 3 weeks

I thought this blog post would be important for 2 reasons:
1-    to communicate to you what I’ll be up to for the next 3 weeks
2-    to remind myself that there were reasons and a purpose behind the decision to leave my family at home and travel for 3 weeks.  This second reason is useful right now because I’m having a hard time with the thought of being apart from my kids and wife for this time.

When I land in our country I’ll spend the first week in a regional WASH forum.  Remember WASH means Water, Advocacy, Sanitation and Hygiene.  30 engineers and practitioners will gather, hosted by a major donor organization, to discuss and learn together.  This will be useful for the project we work with because, as local staff move into greater leadership, they need to build a network of working and learning relationships with other local organizations.  I am excited about this forum because it will bring together staff and leaders from several organizations that I am not familiar with yet.  My hope is that the local couple that will come from our project to join me at this forum will be courageous enough to admit the challenges we have faced with marketing of Biosand (water) filters, and Community-Led Total Sanitation.  Now that our project is local-led, I really need the key staff like this couple to take ownership of our weaknesses and glean from the advice from others on how to improve.

After the WASH forum, I’ll remain in the city for a week of meetings with development colleagues.  It works very well for us to meet after we are together for the WASH forum and before the winter.  The discussion will mostly be focused around how we will divide responsibilities and face the challenges of being without a Development Support Director.  Our DSD left in the summer after a devastating year (lost both of his parents back home), and his role will not be filled until next spring or summer.  Until then, foreigners that work with individual projects, like I have, will have to try to keep things running smoothly.  Hopefully the decisions and actions that come from this week will be beneficial over the next 6-9 months.

In my last week away I will be going up to M-ville, where we worked the last 2 years.  It will be a multi-purposed trip to say the least.  I’ll be responsible for monitoring all the roles and functions of the development project and resolving any troubles there.  I’ll also be paying attention to what is going on in the orthopedic workshop project and the micro-hydroelectric project, in case either of those becomes my responsibility in the future.  What I’m most looking forward to doing is reconnecting with staff and friends.  I hope security is good so that I can take some home invitations. 

What I must not forget to do while I’m in M-ville is repack some trunks of our belongings to send to the city that we’ll be living in over the winter.  We lack the teammates we need to go back to M-ville this fall, so we will be living in a furnished house of another American family while they are on their home assignment this winter.  Unfortunately we did not really think or plan for this possibility when we packed up our house and put it all in storage in the spring.  So I will have to spend some time opening all the trunks and sorting through to find the ‘treasures’ that my family and I can’t live without.  I hope that kaka is able to work in our yard on those days, I look forward to spending time with him.

When I begin my trip home, I’ll make a 1-night stop first in the town where we will be moving.  If I time the shipment of our trunks right I will be able to receive them and unpack a bit.  Even if that doesn’t happen, I’ll be able to see the house we will live in and take some pictures for my curious wife.  After that brief stop I’ll begin the race home: 40.5 hours of domestic and international travel.  The bright light at the end of that tunnel will be seeing my family at the airport!

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