Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dr. K's Diary - Roughing it in Nicaragua

Compliments of the season all, and I do hope everyone managed to combine their R&R with all that leave accumulated from overtime, for a decent 6 weeks holiday on top of the 10 days during which the HRI affiliate you are working for has closed this time of year, at least for people of a certain status.

Of course, for people above the certain status, such as yours truly, such seasonal strategies make little sense as I rather indulge in the sort of holidays that also pay some DSA and cover my minimum incidentals while I endure the indignities of travel.

For instance, I am presently in Managua and am dictating this dispatch from the Real Metrocentro, one of the very few choices for the discerning aid worker on duty travel to Nicaragua. Back in Comoros, Nathan the intern, reinvigorated after a well deserved holiday spent at the bosom of his family in a mythical country north of Mexico is taking notes off a state-of-the art videoconferencing facility, recently installed at high but well justified cost in every HRI office worldwide.

Like our donors, I love the fact that we have embraced technology innovation so warmly but allow me to go on record with the controversial statement that technology has its down sides as well, including the fact that I can’t dictate this dispatch in my Y-fronts while watching the telly, but have to put on a HRI t-shirt and pretend I actually think about what I am saying.

In case you wonder what I’m doing in Managua, well, on behalf of HRI and in close cooperation with the Nicaraguan Ministry of Justice, I have just signed a 15 year, multi-million award with the funding agency of a country south of Canada, for the joint CVTP program ("Comprehensive Vocational Training Program").

Part of this program, HRI has committed to "coordinate" the cultural orientation and vocational education of thousands of Nicaraguans deported assisted "back home" from the country South of Canada. Most of them fled Nicaragua with their families in the 70s and 80s, when they were toddlers, but hey, that'll teach them to engage in drunk driving while holding the wrong passport.

Once "back home", the ones that do not join the lucrative US/ Nicaragua narco-cooperation head straight for the east coast to work with local fishermen around in the search and rescue of discreetly packaged 45lbs parcels of cocaine, thrown over board by fellow returnees that have fused their love of two countries in the "loggie" business of south-to-north supply chain management, in those rare cases when the technically-advised counter-trafficking police unit reluctantly pretends they try to intercept drug trafficking, to get that photo opportunity that will keep donors happy.

HRIs job will be easy – using our vast experience and expertise, “coordinate” the development of highly participatory courses and training of trainers trainings (TTT) that will “create an enabling environment” for these wayward youth to become carpenters, plumbers, and perhaps even drivers or other "support staff" for HRIs office in La Barra. It’s a sound plan and it will succeed of course. Or else the local partners will need more absorptive capacity building, which we will be happy to provide, at a competitive cost.

Besides, there will be no shortage of summarily deported  returnees in need of humanitarian assistance around these parts anytime soon and as long as that is the case, money will keep flowing form the country south of Canada to sugarcoat the whole affair for the benefit of the Nicaraguan authorities. Finally, the whole thing will be presented as “aid” to the sort of critical taxpaying public that dedicate themselves equally to advocating for cycling lanes, encouraging consumption of organic lattes and stopping, like, all the bad stuff in, like, Africa.

And this is how, again, everyone wins – I just hope that HRIs and my personal contribution to this cause will be well reflected in the cables going out to the capital of the country south of Canada.

Continued Success in 2011!