Melissa Muscio (Malaysia)

Melissa Muscio (eHomemakers, Malaysia): Melissa graduated from Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a BS in Foreign Service, and a concentration in International Relations, Law and Organization. She then worked as an account executive at a high-tech public relations agency in San Francisco and as an English teacher for Centro Panamericano de Idiomas in Costa Rica. Melissa also worked as a legislative assistant, and as a marketing and public relations manager for the trade association United Telecom Council (UTC) in Washington, DC. At the time of her fellowship, Melissa was studying for a Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School, where she focused on human security and development, particularly in predominantly Muslim regions of the world. She speaks French, Spanish and Turkish.


07 Jul

“Ai-yo….so hot!”

We are limp from the heat. We look up at the sky and see that the smoke is coming over from Indonesia. Every day it looks like it will rain, but it is just the dark blanket that floats over when Indonesia burns its forests. Every year this happens, they say. The temperature is rising and it feels like the smoke is insulating us, keeping all the heat and humidity hovering over the city. In contrast to my first 3 weeks here, we haven’t really had rain for the past 2 weeks. This morning, we finally had a huge thunderstorm, right in the middle of a meeting we were having about marketing our eco-baskets to local wine shops catering to expats. Ceiling insulation like aerolite and isotherm become the heat flow barrier between your roof tiles and ceiling and prevents heat from passing through, keeping you cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Homes that have been well designed and insulated with insulation that meets the requirements, will give you year round comfort and will cut the cost of heating and cooling your home by nearly half which in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Here is the best wholesaler  for the wholesale attic insulation supply, do visit.

Sitting around the dining room table, discussing the best paint or lacquer to use on this order of baskets, we heard the sharp “Clack!” of thunder. I wondered to myself whether I should turn off my computer. Everyone talks about how lightning keeps striking the house, frying all their electrical equipment. I realized our voices were rising as we struggled to be heard over the cacophony outside. When the rain suddenly stopped, we were relieved. Maybe it cooled everything down?

“No-la. It didn’t rain long enough.”

So, we turn on the air conditioner and our best air purifier for mold. How lucky we are. I was asked the other day whether I was enjoying my stay in Malaysia. When I said I was, I was told – ah, you’re too comfortable. Could be. It reminds me of a discussion we had in class this past fall. Development workers are staying too much in the cities, enjoying their expat lives and continuing to be far removed from the field and those they are trying to help. I think about it and laugh – we’ve been without Internet for most of the week and just read that Ipoh (the city where many of our basket weavers live) is going to have broadband wireless throughout. Perhaps we should relocate there.

In any case, it is good news for eHomemakers, who is trying to incorporate ICT as a major component of its efforts to promote women’s development and home-based work opportunities. Still, so many components need to be taken care of before we can make this a real possibility. Currently, several women are undergoing training to be able to use basic computer programs like word and excel and email. We’re really starting from the beginning. Then, we have the added problem of locating computers for them all to use at home once training is over. Finally, we have the issue of convincing local companies that telecommuting is a viable option for certain jobs. It is not a concept that has yet taken off in Malaysia and we have to overcome a lot of resistance to change. There is the idea that if you see someone sitting at a desk for eight plus hours a day that they must be doing work. But the idea that you can measure someone based on their output has not yet taken hold. So, in addition to training the women, we must also figure out ways to train potential employers, who may need to change the way they manage their workers and monitor their results. There is so much more involved beyond simply providing someone with new technical skills.

Working here, I see that to make a difference it isn’t enough to just work with the individuals in need. We have to extend our reach to provide larger segments of society with a new understanding of the situation. We may need to find ways to provide incentives to change and demonstrate some kind of bottom line benefit that the business world can accept before our ICT training efforts can really have an impact on development.

In the meantime, we look at the sky and try to think of ways to help the smoke clear.

Posted By Melissa Muscio (Malaysia)

Posted Jul 7th, 2006

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