Saturday, 7 April 2012

Changes abound

Well, my tenure as a CBA intern is officially over.  My final report was submitted, all the boxes on the list were checked, and I've emailed my farewells.

But the adventure isn't over!

My new position with ICJ Kenya has started. I am now the Assistant Programme Officer in the International Cooperation Programme (or, ICP).  The ICP is focused on the East African International Criminal Justice Initiative, a large, multi-year project funded by the European Union, which seeks to promote, domesticate and implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court within the East African region. So far, the project focuses on 7 countries - Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, the Sudan (both, now), Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It's a large undertaking, and its ultimate aim is the end of impunity, so it is very exciting for me. It also gives me some opportunities to travel around the region, and be engaged in places I otherwise wouldn't have seen.

The new position will also see a shift in my work focus.  As an intern, I was part of the Human Rights Protection team in theory, but in practice I was a jack-of-all-trades, and worked with every group at ICJ Kenya. Now, I will be focused on one program, and the various projects in administers.  Project management is a key aspect of my job description, and as I found out at our recent Planning Meeting in Mombasa, this also involves event planning and budget administration.  I also learned that when you tell people that there is a "limited travel allowance for participants", people will hear "take taxis everywhere, especially when you want to go out drinking".  So, a bit of learning needed on my part.

Other changes to report:

  • My shoes:  I have one pair of black shoes and one pair of brown shoes (with matching belts). As a by-product of walking to work everyday, my dress shoes have gotten scuffed.  This is a big deal - my Kenyan colleagues dress smartly, so they didn't hesitate to point out the fact that my shoes looked terrible, and that I was being a 'typical mzungu' (since most travellers tend to bring their 'bad' clothes to Kenya, maybe because of some misconception that they might 'fit in' a bit better).  So, I asked a colleague to take my brown shoes in for a polish.  Imagine my surprise when they returned, shining, and jet-black. I'm not entirely sure how this got lost in translation, or perhaps the shoe polisher only had one colour, but now I have two pairs of black dress shoes.  I suppose I'll have to go shoe-shopping, now, since I have no reason to wear my brown belt anymore...
  • My routine: After my spectacular failure to run in the Masai Mara marathon (for that story, and the dead donkey, read here), my goals to run a half-marathon in Kenya fell off the rails. Call it post-donkey complacency disorder. Now, I am back on track, thanks in part to my fiancĂ©e, who is a great motivator, and to the impending race that I am duty-bound to participate in: the Lewa Marathon.  This is an annual event at work, and apparently is one of the hardest marathons in the world.  This might have something to do with the fact that they have to chase wildlife away from the race route. Either way, I've taken to getting up at 6am, to go run around the dusty streets of Nairobi. Who knew?
  • My hair:  I cut it short. One coworker (female), got mad at me for not saving the hair, because she would have liked to have made a wig out of it. I'm not sure what else to say about that.
Otherwise, major changes continue to linger on the horizon of the Kenyan landscape - Oil was discovered in Turkana County (Northern Kenya), election campaigning is becoming paramount, and intermittent grenade attacks are all over the news these days. It looks like the Kenyan elections will happen in March 2013, so this promises to be a very interesting year.