As promised, this post is an update on the work that I’ve been doing over the past 2.5 months. It was actually a good reason to sit down with the original eight projects that I began with and examine what I’ve done under each one and which ones have changed completely.
I’m tempted to just paste in the page-and-a-half long document with all of the tasks that I have carried out bulleted under each heading. Actually yeah, I will do that – it lays out the details better than any kind of written summary could. And I do want to share all of the details with you (I just hope some of you find it interesting, and make it through to the end). But to preface it, I will say this: I am now halfway through my time here in Kenya. Twelve weeks in, twelve left to go. Knowing this, I was nervous about looking back to see what I’d accomplished. Sometimes working here can feel like nothing is happening. And I know that I still have a lot of work to get done. So it feels like a countdown has begun, since I know what 12 weeks here feels like now, and I’ve begun thinking in terms of making sure certain projects get accomplished in that length of time. Happily, I feel very good about the work that I’ve been able to accomplish.
I was especially happy about the event that I organized last week, which was a great success with only a month of planning. (I’ll tell you more about it in a post to itself.) And I am very eager to really work on our Monitoring and Evaluation system, and to also work with FSD on their own evaluation this Fall. I’m going to focus right now on getting the publicity for the Volunteer Program in place and then I’ll be able to spend most of my time on those M&E projects. Doing such work in real-time, in the field, with deadlines, will be a very helpful experience, as I intend to pursue a career as an evaluator.
So far, I’m feeling very pleased with what I’ve been able to give and get through my volunteer role. Sometimes it’s difficult to get the guidance I might want before moving forward, but that means I’m also gaining more confidence in my own judgments and autonomy. Here is the original list of 8 projects, with 4 additional ones at the end. Each one has notes under it about what’s been done so far. You’ll see that the projects are quite varied. That has made it both more challenging and more interesting. One perhaps easily-foreseen consequence of being able to work within many sundry areas is that I am regularly asked to help out on lots of other things too, like fundraising meetings and the charity concert committee and football tournament planning team. Thankfully, I’ve communicated that the bulk of my work is already planned for, and I’m not readily available for these projects, but that doesn’t make it completely easy to say no either.
1. Create publicity materials for the Volunteer Program and the Hatua House that volunteers stay at, and broadcast the info to relevant volunteer agencies and universities globally.
- Took new pictures of Hatua House that include volunteers, to use in literature and on website
- Created professional, engaging publicity material to use when sending out info on volunteering with Hatua
- Researched all of the volunteering-abroad websites and agencies that are out there, and where we should post the info about our program
- Began collecting contact info for universities globally, then learned from FSD’s experiences that our planned approach didn’t work for them; revised the plan for university outreach
- Have nearly finished drafting the new Volunteer pages for the website
- Expressed the urgent need for a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator, a position which we have now offered to one of our teachers
2. Review the newly-created Constitution and By-Laws for decisions that have not been implemented yet, and put those systems in place.
- Reviewed the documents with the Secretary, created action list
- Established a system for tracking sick and vacation leave days
- Heightened security controls on office computers
- Obtained program stamps for all programs, established secure storage solution for them
- Began obtaining formal letters of agreement with our partners
- Instigated more upfront and thorough accounting with our income-generating activity (IGA)
- Investigated our options for donor relations software; awaiting response re: obtaining an affordable copy of GiftWorks
- Discussed plan for donor relations and followup with Gabi, who will be taking on that role more fully
- Monitoring and evaluation: See #3.
- Ensured property logs with property values were completed.
3. Establish a monitoring and evaluation system for Hatua and all of its programs.
- Met with LSF and Twaayf Program Coordinators to discuss appropriate questions and needed evaluation tools
- Finalized 1 of 4 documents for LSF so far
4. Work with local high-performing schools to learn from their curriculums, updating our own in time for the next session in September.
- (Removed from list, as Hatua is not ready for this major project yet. We will advertise on Idealist.org for a volunteer with relevant skills and experience to advise us on this project.)
5. Recruit sponsors for 5 of our kids from my personal network.
- Heidi and Joe came to visit and want to sponsor a child – that’s 1! Our sponsorship system should be live in the next week or two – maybe you want to too?
6. Document the newly-established systems and processes for 1- Child Sponsorship, 2- Donor relations and 3- M&E.
- (None of the systems are fully established yet.)
7. Heighten Hatua’s online impact and information sharing.
- Have been regularly taking and posting pictures and information on Hatua’s facebook page, and inviting volunteers and visitors to do the same
8. Research grant opportunities for Hatua.
- (Not really my area of expertise – we have another volunteer working on grant proposals.)
9. International Literacy Day event
- Planned and hosted an after-school event for International Literacy Day (Sept 8th). Over 150 people attended, including students and representatives from 9 local schools and 3 local CBOs. Poems, skits and songs were performed. Hundreds of our donated books had been sorted into Children, Primary School, Secondary School and Adult sections for all to peruse and enjoy. Local businesspeople, educators and government officials gave speeches on the importance of education and literacy.
- In the 24 hours following the event, 8 children showed up at our office asking to check out books from the “library.”
10. FSD M&E – work with the local Mombasa FSD staff on their evaluations of data collected from community constituents about the impact of FSD intern projects on their lives and communities, in time for a report due in December
- Still to do
11. Info Management – Organize documents / folder systems across all computers
- Still to do
12. HR – Determine needed roles / job descriptions; create Hatua’s ideal organizational chart
- Still to do
Like I said, there’s still a lot to do. But now I am the only FSD intern left from the summer, so there are many fewer people to distract me from my work. (More interns arrive in 2 weeks, but I won’t have too much interaction with them – except one who might be working at Hatua actually). I plan to go on just a few more weekend trips, perhaps one a month – but otherwise, I came to Kenya to work, not play, and I’m still excited to get these projects done. Wish me luck and brilliance!