I'm going to Sri Lanka. Yippee, Yay, Hooray. I can't believe I am this hyper excited about it. Well, I can believe it. I am going back to the same place as I was before and the people have changed, the situation (has hopefully) changed but there will be familiar faces and places and it has been great reconnecting with some of the people who are still there. I am going with a different organization this time and staff from the previous organization have found out that I am coming back and I really can't wait to see them all as well. It will be fun. When I was leaving last time, I said very specifically: the only thing that will bring me back is a job with the British Red Cross. And that is exactly what I now have. I loved the work they were doing while I was there, I like the people they have working for them and the most interesting bit for me professionally will be seeing what is is like to go into a program that is already set up, one that is running, has its rhythm already etc. When I was there before, I helped set up the program, hire new people, write proposals and gets things moving. It will be nice to see also, if those programs were successful, and the hows and whys of what went right and what went wrong. Will have to be careful though to not get too involved in that part of things since I have a new job and new responsibilities and grilling the Field Officers I left in charge of my other projects about why they did things differently from what I would have done or getting excited about how they did do things differently from what I would have done will only bog me down.
I was asked what I will be doing in Ampara and I will be: running economic recovery programs in both conflict and tsunami affected villages. This involves (my favorite bit), a lot of community participation (meetings, brainstorming sessions, plans and strategies), asset replacements, grants and loans, micro finance etc. All of this is seen through a disaster management framework which I think is sooooper important.
I think I have about ten days before I head out to London for a briefing. Not sure since my visa is still in limbo but things are looking good and if I can only get a first draft of my thesis out, things would be prefect. The thesis is due Sept 15th but I MUST, for my own sanity, have a draft before I go so that I can then change things around and think things through and make it tighter since I know that work will consume me my waking and sleeping moments the first two months I am there.
I was really lucky that one of my professors at SOAS, Jonathan Goodhand, is a Sri Lanka (and Afghanistan) expert so there was a lot I learned from him that I want to be able to apply this time around in Sri Lanka, esp since the conflict has escalated since I was last there. Ampara is still considered a conflict zone but honestly, in terms of the other areas, we are not so conflict ridden. The interesting thing about Ampara however, is that it is the district where all three populations, Singhala, Muslim and Tamil co-habitate. Co-habitate is the nice way of saying it. Each village ends up being divided along ethnic lines and we tend to deal with this more on a day to day basis rather than the larger conflict in the country. ICG, by the way, just came out with a great report on HR abuses in SL, which can be found here.
Quick question for all those dev workers who blog and may be reading this. How much information is too much information on my blog about work? I totally shied away from talking about work or even mentioning which org I worked for before and I have seen some people who talk about things openly and others who do not. I can understand if you are working in say, darfur etc, that you do it anonymously, but I don't really think that it is such a problem in Sri Lanka. Any advice on this would be very helpful.
No photos today. I haven't showered and parts of my camera are still missing which is problematic but something I really do need to fix before I get out of here. Signing off for now and I really do hope I blog again the way I used to. Ahh, the good old days...