10 August 2010
Many of the friends are interested to know what kind of work I am involved in here. After coming to Bongo, I found that lot of the things on which I am supposed to work were not very clear. My last four weeks had been spent in concretising of work plan, getting to know the people and detailed planning for the visits. It involved calling and meeting people, explaining them what I want to do and how it will help their departments and fixing some dates for field visits. I did my first field visit yesterday and thought that it is now proper to write about it.
Since it is volunteering and not a proper job one should not expect any crystal clear job description. There was this placement description after reading which I had applied for this placement and was selected as well for the same by my employer i.e. Bongo District Assembly. But it does not mean that my skill sets match exactly with their requirements and my interests match the kind of job which I am doing. But they are some where near to each other. As it is very difficult to find the correct match in these cases because one is supposed to work in remote areas where professionals are not willing to go and live there for longer period and people who want the help are not clear about what they exactly want. What I have found that if one is looking at the whole stint as a some job with an intention to enhance his career then one is likely to get into problems. One should take the volunteering as an experience and it will certainly help an individual qualitatively.
I am working here in the planning unit of district assembly. District here is something which is equivalent to a taluka or block in India. There are many small communities in a district which are divided in area councils (equivalent to Group Grampanchayats). Now my job is to assist District Assembly to develop strategies and plans for the promotion of some livelihood activities important to the majority of the population in the district. District Planning Unit co-ordinates a committee called Local Economic Development Platform. Now I am closely working with it. They have identified three major livelihood interventions which can take the district ahead. These are Guinea fowl rearing, Shea butter production and Basket weaving. I shall write something about them later.
The focus of my work is going to be small enterprise development though my education is in Agriculture. My overall work plan involves studying those interventions, gaps in good and locally followed common practices, study of value chains, developing strategies for promoting those activities in the district. Further plan would be work with the district assembly and other agencies in the district to integrate those activities in the existing plans or development new plans for the same. I am working with a number of development agencies in the district and I am reporting to District Planning Officer. Though there have been some initial hiccups, I am getting along with most of the people finely and have found many good, sincere and dedicated persons to work with. But I have to mention here that the case is not same with all the volunteers and some are facing big problems with their placements.