Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Reversal

Looking back over the last couple weeks, thinking of what to put here, I've realized something a little weird. The things I'm doing that are the most remarkable to normal people seem to me to be background. Meanwhile the stuff I find the weirdest to adapt to and deal with is what's background to most normal people.

In other words, stepping out of a 16 seat van with twenty people in it on a highway in Mozambique, and negotiating sandwiches from street vendors in Portuguese? That's normal for me. Sitting at my desk figuring out when I should write up a report or talk to my boss about the progress of my work? Almost completely alien.

What I've been doing here hasn't been exactly the photo worthy moments you might expect of me going out into a township and getting to know people and their problems. Mostly I've been at the back end in the office helping people who help people help the beneficiaries we're trying to serve.

For example, when I came in, I found out that the company was 95% temporary interns, all of whom were very smart and skilled, but none of whom had institutional memory beyond six months. Nobody in the office had any easy way of figuring out who was doing what, leading to a lot of duplicated work. Plus there was no working way for people to share files beyond emailing each other.

So I fixed that by activating a file sharing system and an app that now functions as a directory and project management tool. Setting it up took an hour or two. Most of my time since then has been showing it to each intern and signing them up so they could use it. Now even if the people leave, the work remains, and whoever comes next will have a much easier time figuring picking up what we leave behind.

Interesting to me. Probably boring to 98% of people reading this. But it does help the people in my office who are teaching business skills and getting nutrition to poor people. It's just not all that direct.

The direct stuff is coming.  I've just started working with a project that uses technology for education, and seeing if it will work in poor communities.  I'm not  100% certain that it is going to work.  But we can get it pointed in the right direction.

 But that will come after tomorrow. As of 25 minutes ago in this time zone, it's now my birthday. So I've got a few other things to do first.

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