Monday, December 3, 2007

Day 2 in "Nooristan"

Day 2 of the workshop went well, without any earthquakes to shake us up. We taught participants how to do an initial rapid assessment, going out to the communities and interviewing leaders, parents, children, and others affected by the earthquake. Then in the afternoon during the simulation, they went out and conducted the assessment. The trainers donned wigs and vests and name tags with designations such as “handicapped child” or “community leader.” We have some good actors on the team and they make it hard not to burst out laughing in the middle of this serious scenario. Next, the team has to review all the data they collected and use it to determine what kind of help to provide to the earthquake victims in the coming days.

We really wanted to get this team out using the GPS equipment and so we sent them on a scavenger hunt this morning, even though that meant we had evening training sessions to make up for the time spent on the game. The clues were laid out from between the new spa under construction about 500 feet down the wadi (valley) from the hotel all the way up to the entrance for this large complex, a good hike. Hana, a relatively conservative Muslim woman from Gaza, changed her shoes twice before heading out, not sure whether any pair would suffice, since she certainly didn’t bring anything like sneakers with her.

Hana is also dealing with security shock. The first day she was confused and concerned when she followed her teammates out of the hotel and down the road a bit to a United Nations coordination meeting, which was held on a lower terrace. She kept asking if they were supposed to leave the building and if there was a possibility of getting kidnapped. Okay, I admit, her fears were well placed, in that today, a couple of the trainers dressed as rebels “attacked” some members of the group as they traveled back to their “office” after conducting the needs assessment in the “field.”

Conversations outside the sessions have been fun, as I learn more from Hana and her colleagues about the current difficult situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, about Save the Children’s latest work in Azerbaijan, about old friends in Lebanon, and about what’s important in the lives of these new folks I’m getting to know.

There’s much more, but it’s late (10:40 p.m.) and I must get enough sleep in preparation for another long day. I’m hearing from you about cold and icy days and feeling lucky, what with gorgeous views of desert mountains and steaming thermal baths all around, with temperatures around 70 degrees and lots of sunshine, delicious Arab food at every meal, and a stimulating workshop. The only thing missing is all of you!


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