Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back from Haiti; and: "Do I work for HRI" toolkit?

It’s been a while and there are no prices for guessing why I did not have any updates recently - you’ve watched the news and would have assumed that the internet connection in Haiti isn’t what it used to be. Indeed HRI had a massive presence in Haiti, not to mention all our affiliates there and I had to immediately leave the relative comfort of Moroni and head for Port au Prince (via santo domingo and a reasonably priced helicopter operated by one of our affiliates), to assess the damage and, of course, see how HRI can put a foot in the door and receive some of the massive funding that will, again, reach that very, very unfortunate place. The bad news is I’d love to tell you that HRI staff are safe but I can’t do that – lives were lost, much was destroyed. The good news is HRI and our affiliates are well in control of the relief efforts an, more importantly, the development plans for the near future.

With my job done I’m on my way back to my humble residence in Moroni and, between flights, I thought I force myself to think about something else for the moment. So I went back to a question many people are asking me of late and, taking advantage of an unusually philosophical disposition, I thought I have a go at answering it. The question, of course is:

“Do I work for a HRI affiliate?”

Indeed, many of you, who do not have the privilege to be directly employed by HRI (in which case you would know it by the mildly sarcastic slogan “another day another dollar” printed in the left hand corner of your payslip) could in fact be employed by one of our many affiliates, the long list of which could never be recovered after it was lost in a tragic excel accident (we don’t like talking about it as the memory is still too much to bear but it involves an intern and the wrong answer to the question “Do You Want To Save Changes You Made To Book1”).

To cope with this monumental loss of information, we had to devise a simple cheat-sheet to help anyone determine if they work for one of our affiliates or not. You probably know it deep down, so a “toolkit” to determine affiliate status is not absolutely necessary, but since the conversation among my fellow discerning travelers in the business lounge was hijacked by a loud party of Heineken-necking Malagasy government contractors on their way back to Antananarivo from a groundbreaking “democratization” workshop organized by one of our close affiliates in Zanzibar (yes, post-coup Madagascar aid/ development money is still making a difference in zanzibar and elsewhere), I thought I give you a pretty straight forward "toolkit": as a rule of the thumb, if your answer to more than one of the questions below is yes, chances are you are employed by one of our affiliates. Of course there are millions of other ways to tell, some of them more sector-specific than others (and I’d love to hear from some of my esteemed colleagues who, like me, have tried to mitigate the loss of that list in their own ways - llok at it as avoiding re-inventing the wheel or as a lessons learned or as an exchange of good practice) but before I get dragged back in the lounge to that conversation about democratization, here are the questions:

1. Do you need more than 3 minutes to explain to a complete stranger what your job is?
2. Does above explanation require the use of any acronyms or terms that require further explanation?
3. Do you use a “toolkit” in your job that is not a physical box containing tools?

1 comment:

  1. i have to say, i'm torn. i am so happy i just found this blog, and yet i'm so sad it has taken me this long to discover it. i love it. also the answer to all of the questions, for me, is 'yes', though since i'm not getting paid to do what i'm doing, perhaps it shouldn't count as 'working'. heh, thanks grad school. also, i'm glad you ran into those malagasy government contractors - i lived in madagascar for a long time and this craptacular political situation is driving me batty.

    thanks for doing what you do.