I haven't had the chance to go on anymore exciting field visits yet, but I have become more familiar with how NGOs work. My supervisor has been out of the country for the last two weeks and consequently I've been given a lot more responsibility. For example, I lead this month's meeting of the Quality Improvement Task Force. The Q.I. Task Force meets monthly to discuss issues pertaining to the quality and guidelines of the care and support of orphans and other vulnerable children (OVC) in Tanzania. My supervisor is a co-chair on the task force and she usually hosts the meeting but I led the meeting in her absence. The task force is in the process of developing national guidelines for quality improvement of OVC care as well as a household status tool to be used in assessing the household conditions of OVC. The discussion about the process of creating and revising the documents gave me insight into how national guidelines for development work are established and the relationship between governmental ministries and non-governmental organizations.
I was also invited to the Implementing Partners Group meeting in my supervisor's absence. This monthly meeting is a chance for NGOs and CBOs operating in Tanzania to come together and share best practices and lessons learned. At the meeting we discussed everything from a recent trip to Egypt to share promising practices to progress made on incorporating children with disabilities into mainstream education. I had assumed, since most NGOs target specific issues and populations, that they work independently but the IPG meeting revealed the interconnectedness of Tanzania's NGO community. So many of the NGOs/CBOs rely on each other as partners in implementation that they seem more like a network than a group of independent organizations.
My next field visit is currently scheduled for September. I will be heading to Iringa (one of Tanzania's colder regions) to visit beneficiaries and implementing partners. My co-workers have been warning me that I will need to purchase a heavy jacket! I'm enjoying getting to know my co-workers here in the office and partners at other organizations but I am looking forward to traveling to other parts of Tanzania and witnessing the impact of OVC programming in the field.