Today I pretty much finished orientation and, finally, figured out where I am situated geographically. Might sound like a little thing, but for me and my sanity it makes a big difference. If there are typos or this seems disjointed, please, it’s because there is SO MUCH HONKING TRAFFIC NOISE outside that I can barely see straight, let alone think coherently.
I spent a couple days sitting with various people in CARE to learn more about the organization. The work they are doing is really interesting and I’m looking forward to getting more into it. CARE is moving more towards a program-oriented approach as opposed to individual projects and is rolling out gender analysis through Strategic Impact Inquiry (SII) framework throughout all levels of the organization, in programming and internally in their own systems. That was a long meeting this morning… I’m not used to social studies talk so it was starting to seem pretty circular to me. There’s no data, outcomes are… fuzzy… I’m not sure there are outcomes, actually, or if it’s just the process that’s the important part. Clearly I need to bone up on this! Everyone seems pretty engaged and eager to participate in meetings and at the workshop I attended this afternoon. By that I mean they’re loud and talk over each other and argue even when they’re agreeing on the same point. Still, I think it’s great that everyone cares enough about the subject to have an opinion and gets really into the discussion, and everyone agrees that this gender analysis is very important. I have to say, I think this is the first time I’ve heard men say that gender issues are important. I think in Canada the attitude is pretty much “equality’s been realized, why do we need to talk about this?” but obviously that’s not the case here. And really, I don’t think that’s the case in Canada either.
So, for a quick run-down: I learned about the Girl’s Education Program, GEP, which has a lot of projects going on to address the issues girls in rural areas have staying in school. A lot of girls are pulled out of school very young, either because the parents can’t afford it, don’t think educating a girl is important, or she’s needed at home for labour. Also learned about EMPHASIS (health program whose acronym escapes me now, shared between Nepal, Bangladesh, and India addressing access to health care, medication, and health education for migrant workers at risk for or diagnosed with HIV/AIDS). Learned about some livelihood projects in the southern states such as cachew processing and crab fattening… also sat with the advocacy group, program development, finance, HR… lots to absorb. I’ll be starting job induction over the next few days and they’re planning a field visit for me soon, don’t know where yet.
My colleagues are being very helpful getting me settled in and giving me tips. Today I had my first rickshaw ride and visited M block market in GK-1. This is a good thing – they have lots of shops there. I finally figured out where this Nehru Place apartment is in relation to GK-1 (Greater Kailash part 1) which is where I’ll be moving shortly. The rickshaw is a great way to experience both air quality and New Delhi traffic up close and personal. Hopefully I’ll be brave enough soon to try to take them by myself. I don’t know how to haggle the price down (I’m a sucker who takes the easy way out and just forks over) and I know they jack it up for foreigners. I also met the landlady, Mrs. Prakash, who seems very sweet. The GK area is definitely nicer than Nehru so I’m looking forward to the move. Not that I can complain about my accommodations here, but it’s not as walkable, lots of traffic and rather industrial. The office is also in a pretty rough, industrial area (former Fellows, Okhla is not Haus Khaz!). It was an intentional move for the office; not only is the rent like 70% less, but for an anti-poverty NGO it’s much more consistent with their mission to set up shop in a poor area.
People who want to know about food: I don’t have that much interesting stuff to report. I made this lentil rice pilaf thingie with cumin seeds which I make in Canada… I have no idea if it counts as Indian but hey, all the ingredients were sourced locally! At the moment I’m salting an eggplant and I’m going to saute it with zucchini and onions and put it on pasta. Yes, the 900g bag that I brought from Canada “just in case.” Let’s call it fusion. 🙂 I’m pretty limited in the kitchen at the moment in terms of equipment. Chopping with a serrated 4″ knife is no fun, cooking pilaf in a wok on a camp stove with only a pancake flipper is likewise a challenge. Worry not, I will persevere and if anything turns out that worthy enough to write home about, well, you’ll hear it here first!