It went OK. Or rather, it is going OK, because we’re four days into a five day training programme that I’m running, and my assessment is that we’re pretty much where I wanted us to be by now. And actually we won’t really know if it went OK even after tomorrow, because after tomorrow the people I trained will have to go and use what we’ve worked on to do some research. And even after that, we’ll only really know if it went OK if the results of the research end up changing things for the better.
I’m freelance and I work in development, which invariably means taking on work without knowing exactly how it is going to play out. You get a short period of time to do something that is worthwhile for the people you are trying to serve (I mean the real people, the poor or the marginalised or the participants or the beneficiaries if you prefer old-fashioned terms). Worthwhile for them but in a way that the client (the donor, the government, the technical agency, the NGO etc) will actually recognise. Because the two things don’t always join up. A lot of development work is about good stories, not results.
It’s going OK because the client gets it and is supportive and has let me get on with it, by and large. It’s going OK because the participants, are joining in and making the most of it and, I think, learning quite a lot from it. And I think when they go out and do the research, they’ll do a good job. A very good job for a group who have, for the most part, never been trained to do anything like this and who are, by all accounts, treated like shit by most of the people in the towns they live in.
Also, I think it is going OK because I’m having a good week. With these things there isn’t much scope for having a bad one. Earlier this year I had a bad week and some unlucky client and even unluckier participants got me for that week. I wrote a report and I got paid, but if I hadn’t been having a bad week it would have been a whole lot better. It’s a bit haunting because I’m well paid and a lot is expected of me, and the people I’m supposed to be working for (the real people) don’t get much support. I suppose occasions like that are where the image of the fly-in fly-out consultant who cares only about invoicing comes from. I’ve never much believed in that image: I think it’s more a case of, we try our hardest, but sometimes we aren’t given a chance to do a good job, and sometimtes we just suck.
But anyway this week it went OK, and I think we’ve got a good chance of it continuing to go OK, and that makes it worthwhile.