Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not a Normal Day

Inspired by Peace Corps Jenny’s blog (creatively titled “Not All Who Rwanda Are Lost” – she gets more points than “Eli Goes to Africa”), I decided that today I would do a “Day in the Life of…” entry to give you all a better idea of what exactly it is that I do over here. However, it turned out to be not a normal day at all. Mostly because I spent four hours at a funeral. I really wrestled with the idea of changing the blog to instead talk about the funeral. On one hand, not concentrating on the funeral might be disrespectful. On the other hand, I think it captures that no day for me is quite “normal”, especially because I wouldn’t be able to write a “Day in the Life” entry until next Tuesday…assuming that that turns out “normal.” So, with apologies to the departed:

6:05am – Decide that I’m too sick to go for a run and go back to sleep.
6:40am – Hear chirpy voices outside. The first staff members have started to arrive. Damn it.
6:45am – Drag self out of bed, put on pink pants and purple sweater (decide that my clothes need to compensate for my lacking energy), start boiling water for oatmeal and tea, wash face, make oatmeal and tea, grab backpack, walk across the driveway to the office with breakfast in hand.
6:55am – Arrive late. Sit and brood, wondering why everybody always shows up before 7am without fail.
7-7:30am – Realize that the only news of the day is that so far __% of the votes have been tallied and Kagame is winning by 9__%, so I spend about half an hour blitzing with Jen Argote who is watching very subpar, late night TV back in the states.

7:30-8:30 – Get a crash-course on website design because I’ve been promoted and now have permission to edit the WWHPS website without going through a middleman! (I think because the middleman charges $$ but we’ll pretend it’s because I’m brilliant.) Thank Hany Farid from the bottom of my heart as I don’t look like a complete idiot and even begin to navigate some of the html code even though it’s not necessary.

***CHECK OUT THE WWHPS WEBSITE @NOW: It will be changing in the next few days so I want feedback! Feel free to leave any (anonymous) suggestions in the comments section too! Thank you! (I expect to see a peak in site traffic today.)

8:30-11:30 – Discuss Community Survey Final Report. The community survey was designed and conducted before I arrived, but I got here just in time for the analysis and write-up. It contained the average (for a dev econ major who has read many surveys conducted in developing countries) gamut of questions about demographics, family, health center usage, and a few medical anthropology questions. Kelly, the DMS student who designed it, left on Monday – so I’m now working with Musanze’s former mayor on writing a final report. He’s a sociologist. I’m an economist. His report draft was 90 pages (double spaced). Mine was 3 (single spaced). We had a long philosophical argument about how long the report should be. He’s now a professor and I came to realize that I would, without a doubt, fail his class – but I forced myself to think of him as a colleague, not a superior…I was arguing for what I honestly thought was best, not about a grade. I hope and pray that we agreed on 10 pages with an extensive appendix. After the argument, I read through his report and then re-wrote my part to highlight what I thought were the most pertinent conclusions and recommendations.

10:30-12:30 – Meet with Lauren to discuss Health Center Assessments. These are the tools that we’re designing to actually measure our impact in our 5 project areas. Right now we can show how the health center improved, generally, but nothing that shows exactly what CCHIPs did. This is no good when looking to potential donors for support. The challenges of the HC Assessment tool is that it really forces us to define SMART (points if you know what that means) goals (as opposed to easy/vague ones). It also forces us to determine what the “ideal” is for many situations. Just to put it into perspective: the US hasn’t quite figured out how to measure MD performance…so how are we supposed to do it?

12:30-1pm – Lunch! Macaroni and cheese with sausage…mmmmmmmmmmmmm. (If you’re sending a care package, a 5lb brick of Cabot cheese + pepperoni both travel well and would be *amazing.*)
1pm-5pm – Change and go to funeral for one of our staff member’s brothers. The short summary of the funeral (remember I was planning a whole blog on this):
- Bright colors are still good. Just like the wedding…I wore black and stuck out.
- Muzungus are usually more interesting to stare at than the preacher.
- I LOVE JEANNE D’ARC (CCHIPs Project Director) who held my hand throughout the whole thing, whispered translations to me, and just in general helped me not look like an idiot.
- It was easy to look like an idiot because the funeral was outside, in a garden/field, where all the brothers buried the body. And then (I love this part) planted on top of it immediately…from death comes life…
- From my “compare this to situations I know” estimate, over 500 people were there. He died yesterday…I have no idea how so many people even learned about it in that time.
- I could figure out some words to the songs! Comeza = “go forward” because that’s what we say to moto drivers…therefore the chorus “comeza a dieu” = “go forward to God”! I sang along to those parts.
- Overall I was incredibly impressed with the community support and the process of the funeral. I think it was a great place for somebody to mourn and be comforted. People around me felt free to cry their hearts out…but then praise God in the end.

5-5:30 – Skyped with Mommy and Poppy 
5:30-6:30 – Football time! I wasn’t going to go because I felt sick, but then I heard the ball being kicked around outside and immediately felt energetic. We played with our Rwandan friend Patrick and a few others.
     Lowlight: On my own team
HIGHLIGHT: But we won anyways! (because we had more Rwandans on our team)
6:30-7:30 – Dinnertime! Rice and beans and lots of akabanga sauce. Fabulous dinner table conversation with Lauren, Marvin, Zack, and Travis.

7:30-8:30 – Decided to not watch whatever gory movie with the rest of the group…instead got excited and worked on the website. Then I remembered that I’m not getting paid, so maybe I don’t have to be working past 8pm? Simultaneously (slow internet) studied for the GMAT and researched potential testing centers. Help me choose: Kampala, Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Lusaka, and Addis Ababa are the closest. Ohhh where should I go?
8:30-9:30 – Mourned the loss of my kindle by writing an obnoxious email to my parents and another CCHIPs volunteer in the Upper Valley (begging her to bring me a charger when she comes back to Rwanda), and wrote this update.
10pm – Ummm…I woke up at 6…and I’m planning on waking up at 6 tomorrow (need to get in a shower before work…don’t know if you noticed no shower after soccer)…BEDTIME


Jen said...

jersey shore is NOT subpar

Eli(zabeth) Mitchell said...

Took you a while Argote. You're officially on blog-shout-out probation. Schless is winning (too bad she's on the other blog so you can't see each other's comments).