Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Global Partnerships

Here's the link to the blog post I recently made regarding for the Global Brigades e- newsletter. Topic: Global Partnerships. Feel free to comment on the blog website or here :) http://www.brigadesblog.org/?p=1291

Also another link to an article I wrote a long time ago when I first started at GB regarding starting the Research and Evaluation unit: http://www.brigadesblog.org/?p=873#comments

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Job and a Lesson on Being Present

So to give just a little background information about what exactly I'm doing in Honduras this time around: I'm working with an organization called Global Brigades as the Director of Community Research and Evaluation. I work in all 5 of our disciplines in Honduras (Medical, Dental, Public Health, Water, and Microfinance) in building evaluation frameworks, strategic planning and implementation of needs assessments for the 120 different communities we work with, developing system for community selection, and then planning and executing baseline demographic health surveys in these communities. That way, we can have baseline health data to evaluate from after implementing all 5 programs holistically in a selected community.

That's my job, in a nutshell...and it changes with different needs along the way...

But another side-task I've been involved with recently has been giving classes at a school for young female domestic workers. We have started a new partnership with this project and have formed a new high-school technical course in Health Promotion. I've been asked to teach a few week-long courses in this program on international health/development NGOs including Global Brigades' work, as well as an "in-the-field" course on Research and Evaluation in Health-Based NGOs, specifically Global Brigades. It's been a cool experience getting to know these girls, their (somewhat difficult) backgrounds, but also their excitement for working in health in their country. Who knows, some of these girls might go on to be nurses, or doctors, or dentists...?

One thing that I have come to face with trying to juggle my own job along with teaching these classes in Health Promotion is that I find myself often jaded with these kinds of experiences. At first, teaching these classes was kind of thrown on me, as an obligation almost, which stressed me out and made me a bit resentful, which I'm sure a lot of people in the field experience. Why do I have to do this on top of everything else? I'm already burnt out! Needless to say my first class didn't go so well. As I came home, plopped down on my bed however, I thought, you have the chance to shape these girls lives. And you didn't do it.

I'm sure every teacher goes through this experience, and as you see the fruits of your labor in those kids, you feel that motivation to continue on...that becomes your purpose. It brought me back to last year, to a moment in which I remembered feeling like I knew I was making a difference in the lives of my workers with HIV, but deep down inside was worrying about one thing or another-my future, my friendships, my relationships, my career-and I wasn't fully PRESENT with them. I found myself doing that again...worrying about my own things I needed to get done with GB, with my own program development, that I wasn't fully PRESENT with these girls. I think that's extremely important and something that not only I, but a lot of people in the field do. We are so focused on getting a task done, or so entrenched in the work we are doing, that we don't take the moment to be PRESENT where we are. To have coffee with a community member, to smell the corn tortilla, to smile or greet your coworker in the morning, to listen to someone's story. I hope I can be more PRESENT to these girls as I continue to teach and build relationships with them. I don't know what my future holds after the next 9 months, but after having done this once, I hope to not burn out or worry about the future, but rather BE PRESENT where I am now...

back on track

So I realized recently that I haven't kept up on my blog in the last 6 months. After feeling sentiments of disappointment and discouragement (at failing yet another "journal"-like endeavor), I've decided I'm just going to start again. Anew.

I could try to catch you up on all the crazy experiences I've had in 6 months of my new job and life in Tegucigalpa...there have been many, between speaking at conferences, spending days copying health statistics in paper and pen, and very interesting car conversations with Global Brigades staff, along with personal let-downs in relationships, finding new amazing friends/roommates and enjoying incredible roof parties. However, the past is in the past. My new years resolution oh-so-long ago was to live in the present and do what I WANT to do. May seem selfish, but for a over-the-top people-pleaser...it was the next initiative I needed in my life. So, living in agreement with that, I'm just going to start from now. Skype me if you want to hear about the past.

I'll try to update every other week and I hope to keep this blog for interesting observations I encounter in the field. Living and breathing international health and development in Latin America. So...once again...enjoy!