This week has been absolutely tremendous. I’m serious. I know from big scary mountainloads of work, and this week qualifies. I am responsible for three evaluations starting all at once. For the third one, I head to the field tomorrow to collect data in El Cauca, a region in the south of the country, bordering Putumayo if you’ve ever been to Starbucks and seen those music CDs.
The first evaluation left for the field this week. The teams are hearing stories from victims of land mines, and how they’ve fared since participating in a program to help them get occupational and physical therapy, job skills, and actually productive job projects (some agricultural, some a little tienda in town, and lots of variety in between.) There’s a ton of work to get the focus groups set up ahead of time, to make sure the researchers (my team) have everything they need, that the flights all go without delays, etc.
The second evaluation is a giant fiasco. The group being evaluated doesn’t seem to want to be evaluated. I mean, who would, right? But then again, it can be a big help. The group can find out things from a neutral third party that their participating communities wouldn’t tell them. We can give them a fresh perspective on how to improve things – and thereby win more work, have more credibility, etc. So being evaluated isn’t a dream weekend in Paris, no, but it is also not a root canal. We’re here to help. Not buying it, these folks. It’s delay after delay after delay, mixed in with unfulfilled promises, and, if I’m frank about it, a lot of smoke being blown out of a lot of bungholes. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
The third one is the big whopper doozy. Hundreds of millions were spent on programming over five years’ time, all over the country, and we’re supposed to look back at it now – three years after the programs ended – and see if anything was sustained – by the communities, the municipalities, the companies involved. Okay, but there is no list anywhere of those communities, municipalities, etc., to go calling them.
So I get to today – Tuesday the 19th – and I still don’t have any such list, or any approximation of such a list (we call it “sample” in our lingo.) I leave for the field tomorrow. Hmmm. Another five teams of people (two per team) leave on Sunday. We’re headed to ten different departments of the country (like states). No one knows WHERE THE BLOODY NORA THEY ARE GOING NOR WHO THEY ARE GOING TO TALK TO WHEN THEY GET THERE.
You’d think this would be my first priority, upon waking up today, right? Well, you’d think. I tend to procrastinate on the stuff that intimidates me most. Calling around trying to get this information had me absolutely paralyzed. At about 3:00 p.m. I begged for help, from a dear woman on our team. She had it in motion – if not quite totally yet resolved – by 3:05. Literally. Another woman who relied on the information to be able to do her role also came to my aid. I mean, I was just a mess inside, knowing this wasn’t done, but not knowing how to start.
And I’m the boss! I’m the evaluation guru! I had a lot of guilt mixing in with the procrastination and intimidation – really, this is a stew no one wants to eat. And all I got was support. Help. Kindness. Answers. Appointments. Action.
I know I can’t do it all, or alone. But it is SO HARD to ask for help. I guess today should be a good lesson to me – both about trying to do it all, and about knowing when I can’t. And not thinking that “Evaluation boss” means “Must be perfect, at all times, on all topics, in all ways.”