Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday March 16, 2009, another week

My support counselling debriefing that was supposed to occur today has been cancelled. The head counsellor is not feeling well and will get back to me. I had been looking forward to it as I think that it would have been helpful for a young and inexperienced counselling staff to look at issues of working with clients dealing with rape and gender violence, trauma and denigration, to look at issues of transference and counter transference, dependence and termination. Two of the counsellors have been counselling for less than 6 months and the supervisor, while having a psychology degree from a largely white [her words] university in Capetown, South Africa, has not got a lot of supervisory experience. I am also told that what was going to be three sessions is now down to one.

I went to the tour operators today and I have an agent working out deals to go to the Moremi Reserve in the central Okavango Delta, the Linyanti Reserve in the northern delta and Victoria Falls on the Zambia side. I also visited a travel agent to see if my return flights can be changed to accommodate those dates. Tomorrow, I will go to find out the results and the financial damage. As I said last Friday, I have to keep in mind that this is a rare opportunity and that I will take advantage of it.

I checked with the woman who came to me for help with her family regarding being expected to cook the evening meal after working all day while the niece and nephews have been at home all day. She beamed and said that they had cooked! I congratulated her and urged her to keep on standing up for herself.

I continue to interview staff members re their issues about working at WAR and the team and themes are emerging. Like all NGO's [ non government, non profit organizations usually involved in development and assistance work like WAR], money is tight and there are many limitations. The answer to most requests for projects and other expenses is that there is no money for that. It appears to me that the 'white' female Board of Directors is somewhat paternalistic and expects people to be grateful for whatever they get and not to ask for anything more or different. The Board have been invited several times to meet with the staff team to discuss the staff ideas for new programs and outreach and the Board have refused the invitations. It also seems that the policies in terms of education on gender violence and outreach are a bit dated and that frustrates some of the more progressive staff.

One of the progressive staff commented to me today that he would like to come and volunteer at the "NGO" that I work at in Canada - as a journalist, he is frustrated by the limited outreach that occurs and wants to establish a communications department here.

No one is eager to push the envelope, however. The last coordinator [= Executive Director] was fired for advocating for too much and pushing for "too much" change. Challenge, apparently, does not go down all that smoothly! Change and growth is difficult everywhere, whether it be organizational, professional or personal. However, as we all know the lesson will continue to appear in some form or another until it is learned.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to see how difficult it is to be "progressive" when it goees against the cultural grain. Have you met any of WAR's clients?