You take them both and there you have…

It has been so tremendously difficult to write.  To find the time.  To find the words.

In the Casa every day is an impossible adventure, with very good and also pretty bad things happening all around.

On the very good side, C was able to convince a couple of seriously talented photographers to make the kids part of their portrait project.  Basically – and I hope my humble words do their incredible journey justice – they’ve come to appreciate how difficult it is to get portraits of strangers while they travel, so they concocted a plan to bring the necessary equipment to print out the shots they shoot and give a copy to the subject on the spot.  The kids thought it was magical and the pictures turned out amazing.

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S & A…brother and sister to whom it is very hard to say no…

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A different take on change

As a rule, since leaving the UK, I’ve tried to keep my role within organisations purely consultatory.  That is, I knew when I decided to do this that I didn’t want to work directly with the people the organisations supported – the “beneficiaries,” or more appropriately, the community partners.  That is a role I felt – and still feel – should be occupied by the people who work directly for the organisation.  The people who know those they support best because they are from the same community and cultural context, and know best what those folks will need going forward in part because they will be there with them.

Wanting to work in communities from which we do not come and in which we will not stay is a difficult path to tread.  And of course it doesn’t always pan out the way we plan, in spite of our best intentions.

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A day in the life at Hogar Para Todos

There are at present 29 children living at Hogar Para Todos.  The house belonged to the director’s parents, who from what I understand left it to her when they died.  Nancy is 76 years old and usually is woken by a staff member or a young person whose problem can only be resolved by her at around 6:30 in the morning.  From there she starts her day, never seeming to rush, but always making progress.  By 8:00 or thereabouts she is fully dressed and has had her breakfast and is getting to the day’s to-dos.  She has no office, and her only device is a Blackberry from which she occasionally checks her Facebook page.  Throughout the day she floats between the accounting office (which has become my temporary home, as there is a computer I can generally use if no one else needs it), the “Director’s office,” which is a funny misnomer because of course Nancy is the director, but there are 3 desks in there and none of them are hers, and the various other parts of the house where care and support are the order of the day: the kitchen, the babies’ room, the playground, the dining room.

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A (somewhat long) postcard from Azogues…

I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the last 2 weeks feel a whole lot more like 2 months…such an incredible amount of things have happened.

I literally taught up to the minute we left Le Puy – my last lesson ended at 9:30 on Tuesday morning, and we were on the road within the hour. We drove up to Paris with C’s sister, with whose family we stayed whilst in town, save for one dreamy night with our good friends in the city, who happened to prepare a gorgeous Thai/Indian feast for us to boot. The rest of our visit was spent marveling at how fast our nephews are growing and changing, complete with a Saturday on the rugby pitch. Paris was lovely, but we were off pretty quickly from there…

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Nearly there…

The last few weeks have been maddening.  In an attempt to get as many pennies into the coffers before we leave as possible, I took on as many students as I could, some transcription work for a friend in a doctoral program, and a rush translation job for a tourist board near here.  C and I have also been tying up all the loose ends we have here, as well as scrambling to learn as much Spanish as possible before we go.

As the weather’s gotten nicer, I’ve been stuck indoors, typing away, preparing lessons or teaching.  I haven’t been creating (and I assure you that every word I’m typing right now is like pulling water out of that proverbial stone), I haven’t done yoga, gone jogging or hiking…in fact, I haven’t gone out much at all.  C’s spent 3 out of the last four weeks away for work, and there hasn’t been time for anything…well, there has been some time, but I’m awful at taking advantage of snippets of time during the day.  I need an open horizon before I can chill.  A vacation would be nice.  But while we’ll be taking flight in the very near future, there will be no time for R&R.  But that’s okay.

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A new adventure awaits…

Well, this was unexpected.  Can’t say, really, what was, but the last year has been nothing if not filled with expectation.  As the school year was drawing to a close circa April, I took the dive.  I’m no English teacher, said I to me, and, This ship needs some new horizons, said we to us (we being C and I, of course).  We do still deeply dig on Le Puy, and this is our point de chute, but there is a lot more world to see than we’ve had the chance to see thus far, and point de chute means landing pad after all, and one needs to take flight in order to necessitate landing, right? And so the search began.

I knew it would be hard.  The Interweb is chockful of warnings that development work is crazy difficult to break into.  But I had years of experience with vulnerable people.  I had years of experience of monitoring and evaluating, of change management and people management and risk management.  I’d volunteered almost without a pause for over a decade, and spent a year volunteering full time with two wildly different grassroots organisations in a developing country.  I had two fluent and a third decent language.  And I type damn fast.  I knew it would be hard, yes…but I thought it would be possible.

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