I'm due in the office in 30 minutes and then I'll be on the run until I fly out on Thursday morning so this is a post on the run.
Please go to Raising Yusuf Unplugged: Diary of a Palestinian Mother. Read Laila's post about the Lifemaker's Centre in Rafah, Gaza Strip and consider whether you would like to support this project, which provides after school care and play time for children in Rafah. Many of these children are severely traumatised. It really doesn't matter what you stance is on the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this is a project to which you could donate whatever your stance, helping these children recover from trauma and discover their creativity and sense of possibility is a critical contribution to a peaceful future. One of my best friends and my neighbour for the two years I was in Gaza was a Scottish artists who did art therapy with kids in Rafah and Khan Younis and I beleive to this day it was amongst the most important work I saw in Gaza.
Tomorrow I'm running a workshop for all the key stakeholders in relation to violence against women and women's access to justice in Kabul - on my way out for leave. This includes Afghan government officials from the Ministry of Women's Affisrs, the Attorney General's Office, the Ministry of Interior and the Elimination of Violence Against Women Ministerial Task Force. It will also include UN agencies like UNAMA, UNIFEM, UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF. There will be experts and passionate advocates, people who have seen it all and people who think nothing will work. My job is to facilitate a discussion which will, hopefully lead to an agreed set of priority areas for intervention, a matrix of who is doing what where and some direct suggestions for my agency which has agreed to take on a national project in this sector next year tasking me to design it. I'm excited and nervous and am looking for your top tips for getting all the key players on-board with new projects and then keeping them.
A few weeks ago I made my decision to stay an extra five months until the end of December, at the time it felt scary and I wondered why my heart was telling me to do this, when my wobbly fearful mind was so unsure. Three weeks later I'm absolutely on fire at work, I feel as though I have finally hit my stride in a number of projects and there is no doubt in my mind that staying was right for me. My heart knew it at the time, but my head and my stomach were not convinced. Sometimes I have to trust, take brave steps and know that if I am following my heart then the rest of me will eventually follow. Now I have decided to study next year I have a whole series of new decisions to make (keep working and study part-time and by distance, or leave the field and study full-time on campus, and if so which campus?). But I know that eventually I will know which option is right for me - my heart will know first and the rest of me will come around eventually.
On Thursday I'm off, stopping by Stef in London on my way to see Susannah for a weekend then off to Portugal for a week. When I get back I have a mission from a human rights and police expert in herat for three days, then I'm flying back up to Ghor with not one but two special missions, one to train the Department of Women's Affairs staff to interview women victims of violence and record their cases in a standardised form. The other is to conduct the survey of the children currently using the orphanage - so that the new children's centre can meet their needs better.
It will be a busy and exciting three weeks and I don't know how often I'll get here. Or over to your places. But there will be a great flutter of photographs and posts as soon as the dust settles!