Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Deb in Amman 3

Deb in Amman 3

On March 18, 2012, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Deb in Amman 3

Yesterday I forgot to tell you two extraordinary things. First, although Amman is enormous, until two years ago they did not have any street addresses. They indicated where they lived by mentioning where they were situated in relation to the 8 circles (for example, the office is between the 2nd and 3rd circles). Mona lives on the west side of Amman and they still do not have street addresses.

Second, when Cassie and I went to the mall on Friday to shop for my clothing, we had lunch at a restaurant where everyone, men and women, were smoking hubbly bubbly (hookah), which comes in as many flavors as you would find for ice cream- orange, licorice, etc.

Today is Sunday, the first day of the work week. I had a terrific breakfast of plain yogurt, granola, almonds, dried apricots, grapes, strawberries, pistachios (I think I’m in heaven!), peaches, pineapple, etc. I then grabbed two clementines and a pear, as well as a bunch of apricots and shelled pistachios for my room.

Mohammed, my driver, just checked with Royal Jordanian about my luggage. He was told that it would come in to Amman at 5 p.m. and be delivered to my hotel by 7:30 p.m. today. Hurray!! Who knows why it didn’t come in on yesterday’s flight. I kept expecting it to be delivered late last night or early this morning…

I still remember when Detroit misplaced my luggage when I was traveling to New York City to conduct three days of train the trainer- and the luggage didn’t come for three days. When it did arrive, each bag had a tag saying “Perfect delivery!”

I have been given an office with a terrific view of the clear cool day (40’s, maybe?). I am wearing my new outfit again, as well as a blue pashmina scarf that Mona loaned me- it’s quite cool here in the office!

I realize that I just had breakfast, but I’m already wondering when they eat lunch here. In Nigeria, having breakfast at 6 a.m. and no lunch until 2 or 3 p.m. was more than difficult. My poor brain would shut down without nourishment! When Tricia realized this, she insisted on earlier lunches that ended up being around 1 or 1:30 p.m. My stomach tends to expect food by 11:30 a.m.!

There will be a staff meeting at 9:30, which is in 20 minutes. I’m assuming all of the project staff will be there, so I’ll get to meet everyone. This is a very large office (as compared to the little alcove in Nigeria!) It will be interesting to see how many people are on the project.

My friend Joan, who is extremely well traveled and familiar with the Arab world because of work she did in Saudi Arabia, just wrote to remind me to ask about the call to prayer. Whenever that occurs, the training will have to break. I’ll have to find out when the calls to prayer are and how long they last. I have heard calls from my hotel room, but not really paid attention to when they were- and I have only been in my room in the evening anyway.

Well, I’ve learned that there are five calls to prayer, each of which lasts approximately 10 minutes: 5:30 am, 12 pm, 3:10 pm, 5:45 pm and 7:10 pm. Since there will be 10 minute breaks every 50 minutes, there should be little if any interruption to the training day.

There are 22 staff on site here in Amman. It was fascinating to sit in the staff meeting and try to make sense of the individual staff reports. A few things that jumped out at me: first of all, they are using social media to get the message out about water conservation measures, so there are bloggers on staff! How about that!?

Doing work here involves quite a bit of political diplomacy, inviting various ministries (of water management and I don’t know what else) to kick off meetings, I’m assuming for grant awards and project outings. Some of the staff went to two rural communities where two major springs that provide much of their water will be drying up. The staff wanted to be sure that the communities were aware and had plans for what they will do when the streams dry up.

Apparently, everyone in town attended the second meeting and expected more than simple information. So the team had to pay for 50 meals! Despite this, some high up muckety muck (I’m not clear whether Jordanian or from Ecodit or USAID) said this was the most successful meeting in his past year. So clearly this project team is doing good work!

There is a tiny Asian woman who came into the meeting to ask if anyone wanted Turkish coffee, which she then carried in on a lace covered tray. I had seen her earlier in the office kitchen, where she saved me when I started to put hot rather than cold water into a glass from a water dispenser.

The focus of this project is for “individuals in NGOs, CBOs, government ministries municipalities, utilities and other agencies and organizations demonstrate the competence and skills to develop, implement and evaluate a social marketing program addressing water, energy and solid waste issues in households, among large consumers, and among youth.”

To this end, there is technical assistance (Mobadda, Reem, Lina, Maha K., Fadi, and Ghassen), grants and contracts (Yasmin, Shireen, and Riham), training and capacity building (Maha D and me!), Monitoring & Evaluation and Assessments. Mona led the staff meeting and made assignments. She must be the second in command, because the first in command (director or Chief of Party) position is just now being filled. That is why Cassie, who is home office liaison and coordinator, has spent so much time in Amman filling in.

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