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Closing down May 28, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Communication, Money, Namibia, Ovitoto, Reality, The job.
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As I mentioned before, Phase 1 of the Ovitoto Environmental Community Outreach Centre (ECO-C) Project came to an end at the end of March 2007. Since then, I have been working on the report, evaluation and financial report for the entire project, which was finally handed in last week. Hooray! Well, kind of….

Since my role since I’ve arrived has been assisting with and then managing the ECO-C project, and that we now have no money left, I’m in a bit of a limbo. There are various interim activities that we have planned, like follow-up business training for anyone wanting to set up a business using the skills that they learnt in our trainings, and also an alcohol awareness campaign, for which I received some money from the British High Commission through VSO. But it is all a bit tricky when we don’t really have enough money to pay for the petrol for me to get up there, let alone stay there for a few days. The pressure seems to be off for the moment, and I do have the chance to tidy up a few bits of the project, so long as it doesn’t involve any money. 

To help sort this problem out, we are applying for consultancy tenders. About a month ago, we moved offices from my boss’ house to a real office at a consultancy company. I now share an office with other Namibians, which I quite like, as it did get a bit lonely with just my boss and his dogs. I also have my own computer which means I no longer have to risk carrying my laptop through the neighbourhood. My boss is now working on various consultancy and SME projects which I am not much involved with. But I did get given a tender proposal to write due last week. These tenders are advertised in the newspaper, Terms of Reference can be requested and an application date is set.

So I am served a little newspaper scrap the other week, advertising a tender for consultancy on a rural development centre. Perfect. Until I started writing it. I realised that with all the public holidays we have this month, I had 3 working days to get it done, which meant bye-bye-weekend, and that having never done one before, I didn’t know where to start. Due last Tuesday, I spent 2 days researching in the office, and then much of Friday and Saturday with a feverish feeling I got at university when I had an anthropology essay due, all the books were out the library and I didn’t know what half the words in the title meant. It was not until Sunday afternoon that I really got a handle on it, and then started to almost enjoy it.

On Monday I handed it to my boss tentatively, and with the pretext of “I had no idea what I was doing so it’s just my best effort”, and was delighted to be told that it was pretty good. Tuesday I handed it in. We now wait to hear if we get it. If we do, we will get some money for the organisation and a 2 week trip up north to review this rural development centre.

Whilst working out what our financial proposal is, I found out what I am worth (not that I’m going to see any of it!). It’s about the same as what I earned as a temp back in
London. In 3 days consultancy, I can earn what VSO give me as a monthly allowance. My boss charges that in a day. With a fair bit more experience, I could actually charge a healthy consultancy fee and live an even more comfortable existence than I already do. It is quite promising for my future in development; I may not be poor forever after all.

My morals are a little tangled though, as it seems a little obscene to charge a local Regional Council so much for that or in fact any public body in the developing world. Out here, I don’t think the work we do is worth all that much comparable to the economy. But I hear that is the going rate and we all have a living to support. Or at least projects to support.

So Ovitoto looks like it will be on the back-burner until we get some more money to recruit another Field Officer or get funding from our donors for Phase 2. After my disenchantment with the project and the motivation of the local community, as well as claustrophobia of living in such a small and segregated city, I have decided not to extend after all, and will be finishing up in October. This is my decision entirely but I am sad that my last few months here won’t have so much time and activities going on in the village. But for a small, new NGO, it’s a matter of survival. In development more than anywhere, nothing comes for free.

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