Finally settling down in Harare

written by: Chantalle Okondo
posted in: 2011, Zimbabwe

July 6, 2011

Some of the friends I have made here in Harare enjoying an afternoon together!

Some of the friends I have made here in Harare enjoying an afternoon together!

After having a memorable time in Buhera district, it has taken me a while to get used to the peacefulness and quiet nature of Harare and the IRD office.  In the last couple of weeks I have moved into a separate cottage of the IRD office and, in order to avoid things becoming too monotonous (from living at the same place that I work), I find myself going the extra mile in search of fun social events. Most of my time here in Harare has been occupied with work, now that the survey is done, Patrick (the other IRD intern) and I have to enter in all the data and analyze the information. The main purpose is to document impacts of the REVALUE program that were not expected in the original design and to use the information we collect to mobilize resources, so as to implement economic growth programs that impact orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). My main focus areas in the survey include the diet diversification of the children, so, I composed a diet diversity indicator based on the guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That basically entailed a 24 hr household recall where we asked what the children had to eat the day before and we singled out children under 2 and asked different questions to reflect their breastfeeding needs. I was also in charge of the psychosocial aspects, so I adapted a set of questions based on a previous OVC survey conducted in Zambia. Lastly I constructed some questions on the basic health status of the children.

So far the data entry has gone very smoothly. I have been able to do some basic percentages in excel and clean up the data, the main problem that arises is the use of the statistical software. Unfortunately the software is only on one computer here at the office so we have to resort to the use of the internet, which also happens to be extremely slow and temperamental. One other main obstacle we didn’t foresee is that we initially wanted to tie in our OVC survey with the endline survey done for the whole REVALUE program. Sadly we are having a hard time linking up the households we interviewed and the ones interviewed for the endline survey; with a success rate of only 17% we are forced to rethink our strategy. I am hoping by the end of this week I will be done with all the necessary analysis and will finally be able to start writing up a basic report– cross your fingers that it all works out.

In the last couple of weeks since I returned I have received a new roommate Danielle (another IRD intern) who is working on the PROOF program. I have had the chance to visit a lot of areas around Harare and even saw a rugby match where Zimbabwe over-powered my home country of Kenya. Thinking about it now, that was a painful match to watch. I even had the chance to meet a Kenyan family, and, to my amazement, I found out that the mother/wife was teaching at the same school that two of my aunts have taught. Last week she invited me and the rest of the gang to come over to their house where she had prepared a great Kenyan meal. We spent whole night chatting and playing around with their kids. This came just in time as I was in desperate need of a home cooked meal. God works in mysterious ways.

The cottage where I am staying at, it’s the guesthouse on the grounds of IRD’s Harare office.Because I have been able to settle down and get into a routine, I feel my time here in Zimbabwe has given me a new sense of renewal in my faith. In my search to experience life in Harare I have found myself waking up at 5:30 am every morning so I can go to Mass. Not only does it start the day on a positive note, but I get to surround myself with people that share the love for the church that I do, even if it’s only for 30-45 min every morning. I feel like the daily sacrifice of waking up in the morning for God has allowed me to appreciate the gifts I have been given and realize how lucky I have been to experience and see all that I have. Next weekend we are planning on making a trip to the Great Zimbabwe, the largest, best preserved stone walled city in Africa. My hope as my time here in Zimbabwe comes to an end is that I will have made some lifelong friendships and have had some sort of impact on the people I have met.

Take care and God Bless



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