Week Eight

It is hard to believe that my eighth week in Kyrgyzstan is already over. I will indulge myself in the standard cliché…it feels as if I got here only yesterday. In truth, it feels as if I got here about three weeks ago. A challenging and unfortunate aspect of short term travel is that, often, once you have expended time becoming acclimated to a specific environment, you will shortly thereafter be ripped away, back to “real life,” i.e. home, family, school/work, and all of the associated joys and obligations. These kinds of transitions are always a bit painful for me, however, I also look forward to seeing my wife and her family in China ten days from now.

In the meantime, I have committed my remaining time spending as much time with friends (at least those who have not already left, that is) and completing what is likely to be my final main project of the summer. That is, the Free Legal Aid Center (FLAC) reporting system I have mentioned before.

Over the previous two weeks, I assisted with various small tasks, including editing press releases and advising on a potential name-change for a training program. In the case of the latter, the name change may have potential ramifications with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), provided that the program name no longer matches with the name of the agreement allowing for its existence. However, the change was deemed necessary to clarify our role in relation to the MoJ. Moreover, we determined there was no requirement within the agreement that called for programs to follow a specific nomenclature. Ultimately, or chief of party said that even if the MoJ brings issue with the name change, we will simply make the necessary alteration to the agreement itself.

Besides these tasks, I have spent the bulk of my time fine-tuning the FLAC reporting system. This week, I mostly sought to make the system visually appealing and easier to use, since consultants will be required to manually enter and transfer data recorded in physical ledgers. On Thursday, I discussed the third draft document with Meder and Elmira. They were happy with the style of the document, but requested some changes to its structure, including allowing for month by month recording within a single document, rather than having separate documents for each month. I am also planning to combine separate categories/subjects to create a super list of potential legal issues that may be addressed at consultations. From there, I can finally produce the charting formulas that will provide month-by-month and year-total metrics for consultations. At the moment, the process has come to a halt until we can receive confirmation from the MoJ regarding what categories and datasets will be most useful for the ministry’s future needs.

On Friday, Meder and I spent the early part of the morning reviewing sot.kg (the free legal aid map) as well as the recommendations for revision and improvement that we wrote a number of weeks ago. This was in anticipation of an afternoon meeting we arranged with the IT company that has been hired to repair numerous errors and UI nightmares left behind by the original company entrusted with developing the map. The meeting that afternoon was quite productive. It appears our component and the new company are on the same page as far as what changes they will be able to make within the timeframe and budget we have provided.

This weekend has been mostly quiet. Other than watching reruns of English Premier League games (with Russian commentary, of course), I have been relaxing, reading (again, in Russian, of course), and planning for my seventeen days in China.

Earlier today, I was at a mall, ЦУМ, shopping for lighting cables for my iPhone/iPad. This was an interesting experience, and I enjoyed wading through a sea of third party and Class A through C counterfeit cables trying to find the happy medium between affordable and reliable. I am no-doubt outing myself as a tech geek, but I must share this picture of fake OEM Apple cables. Likeminded people will immediately recognize that something is wrong!