Greetings from Baku!
I've included my obligatory 'cute local kid' photo right off the bat - but more on that in the next post.
Since the last posting, I found a place to live...right where I already was! The 'Eurovision-housing-suck' was going to leave me homeless until the program director offered for me to stay at his place until I found my own. But after several days of looking at some promising apartments around town (and having my mind blown that it costs just as much to rent a place in Baku as my place costs in Williamsburg), the program director offered for me to continue to stay with him and I happily accepted. Bob lives in a very nice 2-bedroom apartment overlooking the Caspian Sea. His wife is out of town until August and we get along quite nicely and like the same re-runs on TV so it works out pretty well. Minus that he continues to run a great deal farther and faster than me in the mornings!
The start of work has been interesting. My first task was completely non-law related and required dipping in to some knowledge gained from my days in horsey land from the USEF and USEA as I reviewed the financials with Bob for the various grants and have been crunching some numbers on and off since. The office is basically funded by grants from foreign donors including mostly notably USAID. Right now is a busy time grant-wise in the office with several grants wrapping up and others just beginning.
It's also a time of staff changes in the office with the three legal specialists heading out next week. ABA legal specialists are foreign attorneys that are brought to work on specific aspects of a country's project for usually about a year. The work is pro bono but a housing and living stipend helps to cover the costs. We have two attorneys from the US - one is a DA from Arizona and the other is legal education specialist from Louisiana - and the third is from Germany. With all of them leaving next week, the number of native English speakers is about to halve and I imagine that will shape what I'll do in the coming weeks.
At the moment I'm working on some of the financials but mostly working with a local staff attorney to prepare a handbook of sorts on the relevant local laws that the office needs to be aware of in order to be in compliance. So far, we have sections on landlord/tenant law, contract law, NGO registration and regulation, foreign citizen registration, tax, and the list keeps growing. Needless to say, I'm getting a crash course in a wide variety of Azerbaijani law and how tricky it can be to summarize the law when reading a translated version of it!
Once those projects wrap up, I'll be shifting more toward editing and helping to prepare reports for the US-side of operations. There's also a video project on a legal aid clinic the office sponsors that one of the legal specialists started and I'll be taking over once she leaves. It's another throw-back to my time in the horse world and Lexington and learning about video editing and interviewing.
On Thursday I'm leaving for a three-city adventure with the Disability Rights Program to Gabala, Oguz, and Sheki. Last weekend I went with the Human Trafficking Program to Agdam, which is a town that's been split in half by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (some Wikipedia reading for background). But, to ensure the continued faithfulness of my readers, I'm going to post about both trips (with pictures) after I get back from this weekend's adventures!
Until then, stay well!