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Friday, 28 January 2011

Ghana Bound in 26 Hours

Bye bye palm trees...hello palm oil

Meetings, meetings, meetings, work, work, work, and soon the time for boarding another aeroplane.

Week one in Atlanta left little time to draw breath between meeting everyone from the senior vice president of global programmes to the lead for agriculture strategy. CARE is one complex organisation with an extremely broad range of projects covering multiple global issues affecting world poverty.

As always, the need to work at the pace of the client prevails, and in this case speed is of the essence, because there just isn't the money to work in any other way. If an assessment isn't done within two weeks, this doesn't just mean scoring an amber or red on the project status report. It means another barrier to improving the lives of 10 million women and girls and helping them gain the skills and independence to raise themselves and their families above the poverty line by 2015. There is no time to lose.

Not only is this a humbling thought; it is a powerful catalyst and motivator. Why am I worrying about getting to the gym to work out, or annoyed that the cafe below the office doesn't have the kind of potato chips I like? What on earth was I thinking?

Charmed life in Naples, Florida the week before leaving for Ghana (even the car parks have lovely sculptures outside them)

After two weeks working on the program we have now produced a lot of work, based on detailed research and yes, meetings galore, but when I start to pack for Ghana later today (okay then, tomorrow morning) I'll be packing bags of motivation and attitude to have a chance of giving the client what they need to be able to help their beneficiaries - their own 'clients' - to prosper.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Snow Joke

Began to worry on my flight out of Dulles when I was seated next to a pilot. I wasn't in the cockpit luckily, this was just a pilot taking a rest flight between the last and next hop, when he would actually be flying the plane. (And just in case anyone's worried there was, luckily, another pilot at the helm.) My pilot kept updating his colleague on the state of the weather. Words like: delay, snow, blizzard, cancellation, no way, awful, were not the soothing lullaby I might have hoped for.

After a long delay taxiing and then finally, de-iced, flying out, I was indeed stuck in NYC for the night, with all flights out of La Guardia cancelled. No choice, really, then, but to try to get to know my surroundings...

SNOW DAY!!!!!!

A beautiful clear sky, bright sunshine and only the mildest of biting winds accompanied me on my walk through Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge, and over into the sprawling metropolis. Past the men selling knock off Rolexes on Canal Street, past the myriad noodle bars, Chinese supermarkets and stalls up to 1st Ave between 10th and 11th street to lunch Mecca.

Or Momofuku as it's better known to me. Two words: steamed buns. Hunger is not a requirement for these delicious delicacies, and they were the perfect antidote to my freezing cold temperature after the five mile walk there. Also was joined by Kate Hudson for lunch, which was an added bonus. Not sure she realised who I was though.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Monday, 10 January 2011

Another suitcase, another hall.

I think Tim Rice must have lived as a management consultant in another life. Arriving in my Marriott hotel room last night was almost disorienting, so much does one of their hotel rooms resemble another.
At this point I have embarked on my journey, whilst feeling at the same time that it hasn't begun in any way. I'm here in Washington for training, but have another four or five plane rides ahead over the next two weeks before I will arrive in Ghana to start work in Accra.

Arrived safely after an array of terrible films Mat would have laughed at me for watching. Easy A and Going the Distance (got this one out of the way before I am so lonely missing Mat I can't watch it any more). Drank two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon. Successfully filled out my US entry card with 'Carmody' rather than making a total hash of it. Tick!

I've been reading about loneliness in one of the many pre-reading packs I've received about this trip and apparently it's a good idea to have familiar things around you to start with, to make the transition to a completely different way of living.

Successfully filled out my US entry card with 'Carmody' rather than making a total hash of it. Tick!
So, do hotels count? Since I've spent my last two and a half years with only a six-week window between constant hotel staying I wonder if they might.
I now know where the remote control for the TV will always be, and see it nestled reassuringly on the duvet. The carpet will always be brown. Scratch that, the room will be entirely brown, with splashes of cream. The little soaps will be waiting for me. All along a corridor which looks simultaneously terrifying and comforting because it looks exactly like part of the set from the Shining. Luckily the over zealous air conditioning no longer wakes me up with its heavy breathing in the night.
Normal service here anyway. If it's Monday then it must be Washington, but if I didn't have a calendar I would scarcely know.