Friday, June 15, 2012

Another Week

It's been a busy week here in the wilds of southern Afghanistan.  My little team has been wrapped up in some very contentious issues with local officials.  What it boils down to is a matter of trust, or rather, the lack of it.  We have tried to move some projects along, but local officials don't trust the contractors, and the contractors don't trust the local officials.  Meanwhile, the local residents don't trust the district governor (who is not from here), nor do they trust the police, the provincial government, the national government, my little team, or ISAF.  How do you get past that?  Well, you just tell the truth, don't over-promise, and do what you say you're going to do.  Same as anywhere in the US, except here we're starting from way behind the 8-ball.

One of the things that has hampered us this week has been the organization charged with carrying out some of our projects.  See, the way we work is that the US civilian government does not do these projects on its own.  We use non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out our programs, simply because we don't have the people to do it all ourselves.  NGO's are the organizations who provide managers, hire the contractors, buy the stuff that needs to be bought, hire local labor, coordinate with local officials, and do all the actual grunt work of carrying out a program.  For the past week, one of the NGO's has been a real headache for us.  Essentially, they over-promised and under-delivered on too many things.  This really irked the locals (as well as us).  Partially as a result, they do not have a good relationship with people here.  So some of our programs are stalled while people yell at other people.  Some of the meetings got really ugly this week.

But other meetings went surprisingly well.  There is one area in which there has been some tension between different sides, but they all made an extra effort this week and really moved things along.  I was impressed.  Unfortunately, it wasn't MY area, so I can't take any credit nor enjoy the fruits of improved coordination.  Rats.  But I'll keep banging my head against the brick wall of local officials and NGO's this next week, and sooner or later I might make a dent.  Or not.

One thing I was able to do earlier this week was more pastel work.  Here's one of them:

Village Elder
Pastel on toned paper, 12"x10"

I think it turned out pretty well.  I'm still working at doing more.  Sometimes they go on my studio Facebook page and sometimes they go in the trash can.

During the shura earlier this week, I did some more ink drawing as well, and here's one:

Bazaar Merchant
Ballpoint on paper, 9"x6"

Today (Friday) was our "weekend".  So I took some "me" time.  I got up a bit late, cleaned up my little hooch, dusted (coff coff coff), aired the place out, and basically just fluffed my nest.  This afternoon, I had to write a couple of reports, so it wasn't all play.  Now that I'm caught up here, I think it's time to get the pastels out again ...

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