Monday, July 2, 2012

What, I'm going to Mozambique?

One day you are in snowy Winnipeg, the next you are headed for a month of training and preparation in summery Ottawa before embarking on an 8 month Fellowship placement in Mozambique through the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.  Pretty standard stuff.  If you had told me two years ago that I would be packing for my third journey to southern Africa, I would have laughed.  But now I can add "Monitoring and Evaluation/Reporting and Communications Fellow at Aga Khan Foundation Mozambique in the Food Security and Enhancing Incomes Program" to my resume.  While I am still learning what that means, my excitement (and nerves) are only building in being 1/3 of the team, with Ashlea and Riaz, heading to coastal Pemba in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. 

After the thorough application and interview process and before the shock of being offered a Fellowship in Mozambique wore off, it was time for the intensive seminar in Ottawa (which ended last week) and the unique opportunity to learn about the Aga Khan Development Network, our work and responsibilities overseas, and to meet the other 19 Fellows.  We are headed all over the world: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Egypt, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.  Diverse and amazing destinations to match the equally diverse and amazing personalities!

After the initial nerves and introductions, the seminar focused on practical skills such as monitoring and evaluation, project management, fundraising and donor relations, and a final simulation which we presented to an expert panel.  Our days also discussed cross cultural effectiveness, gender, health, education, environment, governance, safety and security, and storytelling.  We met with AKFC staff and experts and our "mother" in the field, the world-renowned Ezmina.

The month also included formal receptions and our "debut" which were opportunities to spend time in the breathtaking Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive, meet AKFC staff, and see each other dressed up!  On one of the weekends, we participated in the hugely successful World Partnership Walk where we came together as RUN AKFC and shattered last year's fundraising goal.

Besides the opportunity to be a development nerd for a month, my time in Ottawa was a chance to bond with 19 interesting Canadians who are travelling to different corners of the globe and will be sounding boards for stories, challenges, and successes.  Although I was very nervous before Ottawa, it was bittersweet to say goodbye that last night to my new friends and colleagues.  It is always a wonderful experience to meet like minded people who are also fun, interesting, and well-travelled.  I will truly miss all of them as it was a unique experience to spend almost every waking minute with this group and I am thrilled to hear about their placements and where we are reuniting in March!  I am also so excited to be part of Team Pemba with Riaz and Ashlea and follow through on the many lofty plans that were discussed!

My photographic records do not demonstrate all of our hard work during daytime hours, but it does reflect the "after hours" of the month together!

Did I mention the World Partnership Walk included a flash mob?

Cheerleaders at the beginning of the Walk
Ottawa is beautiful in the summer; the background to the Walk

The view from the Walk's final stretch

RUN AKFC hard at work

Last afternoon outside of Leeds 124

Final goodbyes-maybe some tears?
Sara, Riaz, and Ashlea
(Riaz and Ashlea are 2/3 of Team Pemba)

Farewell dinner
(what a good looking group)
Farewell dinner
(which with a full Indian buffet)

Farewell dinner
(dressed to kill)
Post-Indian buffet glow
Hipster shot of a night out

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