I have now reached the midpoint of my stay here in Tuzla and I think I must spend some time assessing what works and what doesn’t. Following up on the proposal that I presented to Beba over two weeks ago, I have been very busy scheduling meetings, working on finalizing Bosfam’s product selection, researching market trends and identifying possible future market outlets and contacts. Yet despite a full schedule, a very clear goal and plenty of avenues to explore, I feel like I haven’t been as efficient as I would like.
Part of that is out of my control. My lack of Bosnian skills leaves me very limited in terms of who I can contact and whom I can meet with on my own. Either I find someone that speaks English or German or I have to depend on Beba or Elma, my translator, to be available.
In addition, the fact that I do not have direct internet access limits my research and interaction with contacts to those times I can make it to the internet cafe. Add that to the daily coffee breaks, my stints as a fashion photographer and ocasional trips to Eagle Base (the American SFOR base where Bosfam has a little shop) and my time infront of the computer is reduced by about 1/3.
So what can I do to make my time here more productive? Leaving out the coffee breaks is not an option. As I have written in previous blogs, the coffee breaks are what Bosfam is all about and this is where the most important discussions of the day happen. It’s an important aspect of daily culture.
This is also where I find out what is going on at Bosfam and who is in need of support during that week. Yet I have found that I can make my time more efficient by clearly laying out a daily plan and sticking to it. I have started doing that and prepare a daily schedule every morning before I leave home. By having a daily goal and planning around my internet time, I find that I am much more effective and spend less time wondering which avenue to explore next.
This should allow me to reach the goals set at the beginning of my stay. I find myself wanting to stay longer in order to achieve maximum impact. I have grown very fond of the women here at Bosfam and would like them to see the fruit of AP’s work while I am still here.
I doubt that will happen though – I think this will be a long-term project, in which both partners must continually work on improving themselves and their processes, at identifying new opportunities and at supplying each other with pertinent information. I, for one, realize that my collaboration with Bosfam does not end on the day I leave here.
Rather, I would like to continue to stay involved, work as Bosfam’s partner and help the organization continue its path towards self-sufficiency. After all, I cannot continually lament the departure of international organizations and then proceed to do the same – for better or for worse, Bosfam is stuck with me now.
Posted By Pia Schneider (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Posted Jun 26th, 2004