My first week with Ba Distrito has been so much fun!!
In looking over my first couple posts, it occurs to me that I may have been rather jet lagged when writing them. I gave you very little information about the people I’m working with or what I’m doing. Still, I’ve learned more about Ba Distrito the past week, and it is such an impressive organization. Carolyn Tanner, the Chief of Party (or head of Ba Distrito), is a Canadian who has been here over a decade. Most of the people in the office are Timorese but a couple are from Australia. (Haha… for those who don’t know, I pick up accents quickly. I am likely going to have a very interesting little mix of one by the time I get back.) Ba Distrito is the only NGO that the government has allowed to work directly with its Ministry of Justice, thus the training I got to attend this week. They are funded in part by USAID, so I’ve also had the opportunity to speak with people from that department and from the American Embassy.
As I mentioned previously, because the data I need is not quite ready for me yet, this week is research and field trip week. Monday was the panel discussion. Tuesday and Wednesday I attended a training for the judicial officers. Thursday I was able to join a small team that drove up to one of the villages in the mountain to observe the first day training members of the Suco Councils (I’ll explain below). It’s been so interesting to watch and learn. I will admit that my dislike of not having something to do has made me a little antsy sometimes. They have been organized and everyone had done their part, so there was really nothing for me to do but observe. I’m picking up a little of the language. It’s called Tetun. I hope to have at least a small grasp by the time I leave. I talked about Monday already. I describe the other days below. If you’d prefer a more visual explanation, my Facebook album is here. As the blog posts continue, the link will go directly to the most recent batch of photos.
Tuesday & Wednesday
A consultant from the US has been here for the past couple of weeks observing the court system. His name is Rick. The training I attended was for the judicial officers, explaining how to take court statistics in order to improve the efficiency of the court. He taught it very well, and I even learned some great monitoring and statistical analysis methods. They learned about case clearance, backlog definitions, and a few other really important bits of information to help report just how well the courts are doing. One of the reports I read on Monday was written by another consultant who came here a little while ago and made several recommendations, including proper data compilation. The report gave me good context to know why Rick was hitting on certain things. The people in attendance were from the four court districts around the country, and Rick gave them actual data from their districts to look at an analyze. I learned so much! It was a really interesting couple of days!
This country is SO GORGEOUS!! I was picked up at 6:45 to drive up the mountain to the village we were going to. The sun was rising; the roads were basically empty, and sky was clear. Just look at the pictures in my album. I can’t get over how beautiful this country is.
This training was for the sucos, which is the smallest arm of the administrative government. I’m going to get the vocab wrong, but basically, there are districts, then sub-districts, then sucos, then villages. There are 9 sucos in the sub-district we went to today, and the council members of 5 of them were at the training. USAID and people from the American Embassy were there as well as they helped to create and fund the training that will be taking place over the next several months, and this was the first day. It’s several modules on good leadership and governance. I didn’t get one of the little translation headsets, so I have no idea what was being said, but there were about 30 attendees, and they all seemed interested in the training.
I enjoyed talking to the head of the sub-district (the Post Administrator is his title, I think). He only spoke a little English, but he was funny and enthusiastic. We stayed until lunchtime and drove back down to Dili for lunch (again, gorgeous views!). We had fish at this little restaurant on the beach. The fish had just been caught that morning and tasted so good.
This was my first day spending the whole day in the office. Things were still a bit hectic as they were wrapping up Rick’s visit. I spent the day researching and reading. I got a full lunch of rice, veggies, and chicken for only $2.50, which was great. (I am a strange one and am kind of wanting to eat more chicken in the hopes that one of them will be the rooster that crows out my window every few minutes.) There is an honor bestowed upon people when they leave. The person is given a hand-woven scarf. Rick was given his and then we went out for drinks on the roof of the mall. It was an absolutely gorgeous view of the city at sunset, and the music and people were a lot of fun.
I have been having such a wonderful time so far. The people in my office are great, and I look forward to working with them. Haha… right now I look forward to working. There is slight fear that the government won’t have the data for me by Monday. If they don’t, I may start on the other project they said they might want me to work on. Like I said, I love observing, but I am really itching to get to work.