As most of you know, my (field) work at AEPD started with quite some delays. Field work is and happens to be a key component of the fellowship as it relates to all the different deliverables and components of my work here. Basically, without me going on the field I can’t meet the families that we are supposed to profile and who we want to include in the pilot program, nor photograph/videotape, nor write a proposal for since I wouldn’t know what their needs are.
When we finally got to meet the families (and I say we, since the Director, Iain Guest was lucky enough to be with us) the work that I’m supposed to do in Vietnam finally came full circle. We were then able to understand and discuss the stories of the potential beneficiaries but also find how could we be better of service, through the amazing work that AEPD and their outreach workers do. During one of those many conversations I had with Iain, we discussed the great importance of future fellows to have a hands-on/field work experience within the first 1 or (max) 2 weeks upon arrival to the host country. I pointed out how important this is given the fact that fellows leave the one-week training in Washington, DC extremely excited about what’s next to come, in high spirits and (most importantly) ready to make a positive change and learn from the communities where they are going.
In my case, field work didn’t really start until the fifth week which created a whole set of challenges but as someone who is willing to face the bull straight on, I saw it more as a goal to be accomplished over the remaining of my time here. Additionally, there was a few unexpected set of events, such as independence day which turned out to be a dead week at work and also an injury that occurred when I was jogging. The injury caused a few trips to 2 different hospitals and a concerning wrist injury which (during the first 2-3 weeks) made it very hard and painful for me to type.
My biggest encouragement to continue working hard were really the families which we had met throughout the many visits. Families which have opened the doors of their homes, told us their stories, but most importantly, shared their hopes and dreams with us; hopes and dreams that AO has disrupted for so many years.
With only 1 1/2 weeks left to finish the fellowship I made the decision to extend my time in Vietnam an extra week and I couldn’t be happier since my main responsibility and obligation goes back to the families. Sometimes that means working as much as it’s needed to get the desirable outcome.
Yet, I couldn’t be more excited to finish all the work I signed up to do and hopefully, in the near future, see the results of it and how it will benefit the families and (now) friends we have made.
Posted By Armando Gallardo (Vietnam)
Posted Sep 29th, 2015