Thursday, March 29, 2007

Purile but funny

I was reading about research showing that circumcision reduces the rate of infection with HIV/AIDS by around 50% for heterosexual men, and that it will now be promoted by the WHO as a preventative measure, which is obviously good news. But I challenge you not to giggle at the name of the director of HIV/AIDS at the WHO, quoted in the article: Kevin de Cock.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Can anyone tell m why, when I copy and paste into a post, the last paragraph comes out in a different font?


Participating and evaluating

So I know you’re all sitting on the edge of your seats waiting to hear about the participative evaluation on Ibo. It was actually a very interesting exercise and went very well. We brought in representatives of 8 different coastal and island communities to discuss the park’s work and how the communities are experienceing its results, their level of satisfaction and what still needs to be done. We used a number of PRA techniques, which generally involve using simple diagrams to show trends and changes over time, to look at these issues. In general, the communities gave us a big thumbs up, especially due to the success of a number of fishing sanctuaries, which are areas that have been totally protected in order to act as nursery grounds. Initial scepticism has given way to general enthusiasm and demands for more sanctuaries as the fishermen catch more and larger fish in the surrounding waters. Also very popular have been support for schools and some health programmes, less successful actions to protect fields against elephant attacks. They’d really like to get rid of the elehants altogether if at all possible. Most interesting of all, however, was watchingthe dynamics and seeing people exchange experiences and compare results from different areas in the park. They told us that they particularly valued this, and it was also clear that they felt that the park was really listening to them.

So a very satisfying, if rather tiring, few days. We worked with the community from 7am to 1pm, then worked on the reults from 4 til 6pm. Also it was HOT. Sebastian, who still travels with me as he is not yet weaned, broke out in a terrible heat rash all over. Looked awful, but it’s now much better thanks to cooler weather here in Pemba and large amounts of calamine lotion.

What else? House continues to grow, looking great, but we’re now waiting for more bricks to come out of the oven (ordered and paid for ages ago, but that’s Pemba for you). I really must post a pic or two here. Paulo is being kept very busy supervising the build at the same time as dealing with a sudden surge in demand for his services as a sort of para-legal, plus holding the fort at Kaskazini while Gen (our business partner, friend and next-door neighbour, it’s a small town) is in South Africa on holiday. Joaquim is happy because his great friend Milan has come back from Germany and not only goes to the same school but also lives just down the road, and Sebastian is happy because it’s in his nature to be.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

out of office reply

“bex in moz” will be “bex in ibo” for the rest of the week. We are carrying out our first annual participatory evaluation, involving about 90 members of different communities from within the coastal area of the park, and a series of PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) activities. Bet you can’t wait to hear about it when I get back.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Are you still there?

My friend Swisslil emailed me to say that she had tried unsuccessfully three times to post a comment following my last post, so I'm assuming that's why I have had precisely no comments despite my slightly pathetic appeal, and not that you've all got tired of my ramblings and gone home. Have you?

So you may or may not be pleased to hear that I am feeling less worried, mainly because Jaoquim seems to be better. At the sugegstion of a doctor friend we cut out milk from his diet and it seems to have done the trick. Apparently temporary lactose intolerance is common after an attack of diarrhea. So now you know.

Meanwhile, the builders have started on the walls of the house: white rock up to window-sill height, followed by brick (to be plastered). We think it's going to look cool. Inside, it's very open-plan, with lots of windows and double doors leading out to a private veranda facing seawards. However, in order to be able to see the sea, we'll have to trim the trees a bit, or sit on the ground, as we're too high up. We'll sort it out. It's huge and it's going to be quite a change from our current living arrangements which are 2 rooms and a bathroom, an outside kitchen and a large shady patio area. The new house is going to have 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms, open-plan kitchen/diner/sitting room, mezzanine TV room and study, and a huge back terrace. All designed by us.

Meanwhile, as a change from the illness, here are some fun things the kids are in to these days. Jaoquim: singing (wheels on the bus, twinkle, twinkle, the alphabet, baa baa black sheep, oh yes, and Bob Marley - for real, it's very funny), climbing the piles of building sand, bricks, stones in the garden, watching animal shows on TV (him "look, big snake", us "Joaquim, you must never pick up snakes", him "I will pick up small snakes", us "no, no, not even small ones, no snakes! (Sotto voce, should we be letting him watch this Steve Irwin stuff?)"). Sebastian: standing, for 10 seconds or so, dancing and clapping (picture this: J signing along to "I shot the sherriff" and S staning and bouncing with one fist raised in a black power salute), climbing the front two steps, pushing open the weighted screen door and letting himself into the house. Bless them and their little cotton socks.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007


While I meant intensity, I rather like untensity, it would be kind of the opposite.


Unusually worried

It’s been a while since my last post, for various reasons. Firstly, my laptop is on the blink, the e key either doesn’t respond or types eeeee incessantly. I am using an external keyboard but it doesn’t solve the problem entirely, as sometimes the e’s intrude constantly and make it impossible to type. I’m trying to buy a new keyboard in the UK, any helpful suggestions?

Then I was out of the ofice for a while, at a fantastic workshop looking at the relationship between tourism investors and local communities and how to draw up contracts so that both parties benefit. OK, so you might not think that sounds thrilling, but it’s central to my work and it was a very dynamic few days, with lotsof input from experts in various fields and excellent discussions. I left with my head reeling and loads of new ideas for my projects.

Thirdly, and most unfortunately, we’ve had a run of bad health. First Paulo, who called me back from the workshop because he was rushed to the clinic at 4am in agony. Sand in his kidneys (the makings of kidney stones), and while you’re at it, another dose of malaria. Injections, drips, quinine. He’s now better. Then Joaquim. Malaria again, and I’m very unhappy about this, plus – while you’re at it – a very infected tonsilitis. Penicilin injections, paracetamol and malaria medicine. He’s now mostly better, but still has diarrhea. He’s taken 2 courses of metronidazole (remember the ameobic dysentry post) and we don’t want to give him more as it destroys all your gut flora, plus we’re not sure if that is still the problem. We’re watching closely and if necessary will go to Maputo for tests.

All that was a bit stressful, as you can imagine, and as always brought up the old “should we really be here” debate, and in general got me worrying about all sortsof things. I am not a worrier by nature, those who know me would probably say that I am the opposite of a worrier in fact.e Beuet heeree I am worrying. So I have decided to draw up a list of things that I worry about and things that I don’t to see how the balance is looking and perhaps put my mind more at rest (based on the asumption that I am correct in worrying, or not, about these things). In no particular order, and with varying degrees of untensity.

Thins I worry about:

  1. The kids’ health, and in particular MALARIA.
  2. Whether Joaquim watches too much TV.
  3. That we should be living closer to our families, and that Paulo’s parents are quite old.
  4. That we will never readapt to living in Europe.
  5. That my kids will never be fully integrated into their English family because I am selfishly keeping them away.
  6. That I am not good enough at my job, and that working motherhood is a mistake.
  7. That Joaquim’s teeth are going to rot because he sometimes falls asleep without brushing them.
  8. That we don’t have a properly balanced diet.
  9. Climate change.
  10. That I’m losing my old friends.

Thaings I don’t worry about:

  1. Whether my kids are happy.
  2. My marriage.
  3. My weight.
  4. Whether we get enough fresh air and time outdoors.
  5. Whether the kids get enough time with their dad.
  6. The kids’ mental and physical development.
  7. Breathing polluted air.
  8. Pesticides in our food.
  9. The effect of super-consumerism on my kids’ social education.
  10. My environmental footprint.

So, how does it look? Unsurprisingly enough, kids register high on both lists, but perhaps the non-worries for them outweigh the worries, apart from the malaria. There are some hefty non-worries, which is good, but some equally valid worries. I’d really appreciate some comments here.

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