Tuesday, August 19, 2014

World Humanitarian Day

I really can't believe a year has past since last August 19. World Humanitarian Day recognises those aid workers who have lost their lives in the course of their work, and more broadly to celebrate the spirit of humanitarianism globally. There's a great website set up by UN OCHA with hundreds of profiles of humanitarian workers from all over the globe working in some of the most challenging areas. While I sort of object to the #HumanitarianHeroes hashtag (a bit self aggrandising - but that could just be my innate Australian fear of tall poppy syndrome) I do feel quite special being part of something this big.

Every year on this day I express my gratitude for having such wonderful colleagues, who are so hard working, dedicated, enthusiastic, and professional, and while I've very much enjoyed the last few months of funemployment, I have missed the camaraderie of being in the field. It was incredibly difficult to come down off the high of working in Tacloban in the Philippines, as I have never worked with such a motivated and fun bunch of people, and also to extract myself mentally and emotionally from the organisation I'd spent over 3 years with (i.e. the longest I've ever spent in a job!). So on this special day, I send a special shoutout to all of those colleagues who are doing fantastic work in South Sudan, CAR, Syria, Gaza, Iraq, and all of the other humanitarian crises that are going on around the world right now.

If you see one, hug a humanitarian today!

And for me, well it's time to go back to work, and I've happily accepted a position in the Solomon Islands for a few months with an NGO I've been wanting to work for for a long time. I leave on Friday, and am really looking forward to experiencing Pacific culture and getting back into work mode!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Holiday Time

I'm off to the States for 3 weeks. Yassmin is getting married!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! It's going to be rad. There'll be photos in a few weeks....

Monday, April 28, 2014

Saying goodbye, in style

There's a word for the weekend that I just had. EPIC!!!

We started on Friday evening at Ocho, where the food is delicious even if the surrounds are a bit bland. We then moved on to the best jazz bistro in all of Tacloban, if not the entire Philippines, and had a blast singing with Carlos the resident guitar player, think we got home at about 2am....
Saturday morning was of course spent recovering from the night before, and then a few work meetings in the afternoon. The big farewell party, which we held outside the office, started in the early evening.

It. Was. Insane.

It involved a giant, delicious pig (om nom nom)
And Steph came down from Ormoc especially
A really impressive performance, that was just a little bit creepy, to "I will always love you"
Seriously, the costume and makeup were spectacular!! 
There were games, including karaoke roulette, where the singer doesn't know what song they're going to have to sing (one of our drivers was brilliant!) and I premiered the waray waray (the local language) song I've been learning, which went down very well.

There were speeches which made me well up a little bit, and the presentation of some lovely gifts...
 and then the dancing started!!

It was such a fun night, and so touching that so many of the staff gave up their Saturday night for us (there's three of us leaving this week) and put so much effort into the preparations before hand. I felt very special indeed!

I've just finished typing up my handover note, and am copying files across to the shared drive, but then that's it. I'm done. Finito. Shesh. Khalas. I'm really going to miss this crazy team!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

One more week

It's starting to feel very real that I'll be leaving Tacloban this time next Tuesday. It's crazy how quickly and slowly the time has passed at the same time. A whole bunch of colleagues have come down from Manila, and I haven't seen one of them since the last time he came...I would have thought it was two months ago, but it turns out it was four! Madness.

I had a debriefing with our response manager yesterday, and we talked through how the response has gone, the major challenges and major accomplishments. Seeing as I'd already spent three weeks in Cebu at the very start of the response before he'd arrived, I really struggled to remember what life was like in the days before Tacloban. But it didn't take long to remember the 17 hour days cooped up inside a hotel conference room, the fun I had hiding as many song titles as possible in situation reports (because I'm a professional....) and the camaraderie that forms so quickly when you spent so much time with motivated people.

In remembering my first days in Tacloban, I can't help but smile at the enthusiasm we had in over 100 volunteers who were distributing hygiene kits and managing huge cash for work and rice seed distribution projects, though still recovering from the typhoon themselves. We managed to recruit and retain most of these volunteers who are now working at a range of levels, developing new skills, and amazingly, retain the same sense of enthusiasm and excitement almost six months down the line. This is without a doubt the most inspiring office (ballroom) I've ever worked in.

And of course, it's been an opportunity to catch up with other international staff I've worked with before, and make new friends as well. I really learned a lot from our programme manager who was here for four months, he placed a lot of confidence in me and gave me the room to find my feet in management and also engaged me in areas outside my remit for my own development.

There has been a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and a lot of frustration, but there has also been a LOT of success, accomplishment, fun, friendship and karaoke (I think we've also done a lot to support the San Miguel corporation...). As my position has been made redundant this will be my last deployment with my current organisation, and I'm so glad to go out on such a high!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Birthday Jules!!!

It seems ridiculous to me that it was about this time two years ago that Jules and I went to Japan to celebrate her birthday...time really does fly! Anyways, today's Julie's birthday and I just wanted to give her a special shout out as she's one of the best friends a girl could ever want or need!

Happy birthday Jules!!!!

Get Happy

I don't know how I came across the 100 Happy Days website, where people are challenged to photograph something  that makes them happy every day for 100 days. The website says that people who successfully finish the challenge claimed to:
- start noticing what makes them happy every day
- be in a better mood every day
- start receiving more compliments from other people
- realise how lucky they are to have the life they have
- become more optimistic
- fall in love during the challenge

which are all pretty wonderful things. I know I have a pretty cool life, but there are many days where I seem to focus on the negative rather than the positive, even though I would consider myself to be an positive optimist most of the time. So I've started the challenge on instagram (chasingcarly), you can find my photos using #HappyCarly100. Today is Day 3 for me, and though there's only one photograph for the day (I skyped Jules for her birthday, she always makes me happy!) it's already been a happy day in so many ways (like launching a really exciting project to train women carpenters, and booking my holiday to NYC!).

And in case you haven't seen this video, not only will the song make you happy, but the incredible spirit of the Filipinos will have you smiling as well!

Thursday, March 27, 2014


It feels a bit ridiculous to say that this week has been a busy week; all of my weeks here have been busy weeks! But it's getting harder and harder to find the time to do the things I actually need to do for the 4 teams I manage. I seem to be constantly caught up in a cycle of organising donor visits, NGO coordination meetings (organising them, as well as leading them!) and media trips, instead of providing the shelter team with assistance in documenting their innovative consultation approach, or helping the Gender team draft an MoU for a relationship with a local government unit, or any number of other important things. Le sigh.

Added on to the stress of just trying to do my job, there are other HR processes that are affecting me at the moment which is starting to drive me crazy.

But amongst all of that there is light at the end of the tunnel (and no, it's not a train!) in planning a spectacular holiday to the states to witness my dear friend Yassmin (long time readers will remember her starring role in our instructional video...) get married, which will also a bit reunion with other folks from our days in Lebanon.And after the celebrations are over, I'll head to NYC to meet up with Jez and do fun NYC things, like see a show on Broadway, go to a baseball game, eat fantastic food and just wander around.

So while I may be crazy busy, and going a bit crazy, it's good to have something to get crazy excited about!!