It’s hot, it’s humid, and it’s impossible not to sweat profusely. That said, we can’t help but find ourselves falling deeper and deeper in love with this country. After getting acquainted with the members of the BSDA staff and after touring several of the program sites, we finally began our work with both Financing Futures and the Chicken Raising Project. Chhunleng and Sophors were kind enough to provide us with updates regarding both projects including the number of beneficiaries in each, some of the struggles common to both projects, and the various regions in which the projects had been implemented. With project updates in hand, we started to compile a list of questions to ask each beneficiary within the respective projects. One of our primary goals while spending time in Kampong Cham is to monitor and evaluate the progress of each initiative. This comes with a large change that GlobeMed at DU is making toward a transition of funding from the Chicken Raising Project to Financing Futures. Both GlobeMed at DU and BSDA are beyond excited to see this transition through, and our GROW Team is here to help make that as smooth as possible.
It took some time to finalize the questionnaires we would use to interview each of our beneficiaries, but that only reflected how invested we are in this project. Personally, I have never had an experience quite like this and we are meeting new challenges each day. But. Each challenge leads to new skills. For example, working with an organization as dedicated as BSDA, or a group as ambitious as our team, results in long and arduous discussions about which difficulties or which observations to prioritize. The desire to be as efficient and effective as possible is something we all share, but sometimes that desire is overshadowed by differing opinions. One of the strengths in being a member of a partnership, however, comes with the drive to meet a common goal. Lengthy discussions aside, we will eventually come to an agreement about the next course of action.
Questionnaires finalized and copious amounts of water packed, we set out on our first day of beneficiary interviews for Financing Futures. We had formatted the interviews the day before and sent them to our community support officers (CSO) doubling as our translators, Chhunleng and Sophors, who then brought a number of copies to each location. We traveled to a local market, various neighborhoods, and homes further from the city center to meet with the beneficiaries that we had scheduled for the day. Initially, we had high hopes for each of these interviews as we thought that we had made a flawless list of questions, but soon became frustrated as our questions were not being answered in the same manner as we had wanted. Halfway through the day we stopped for lunch and a little siesta, but ended up spending the majority of our time discussing some of these unforeseen complications. First on our agenda was the language barrier. While Sophors and Chhunleng are very competent translators, we couldn’t help but feel as though we were losing some substance in each translation. Next on our list was a lack of some information, and we ultimately realized that we had been a little overzealous when it came to some of our questions. It should come as no surprise that work in the global health sphere is very time intensive and requires a strong sense of patience. This is only our first week in Cambodia, but we have already experienced just how necessary this patience and maturity is. As we continue on with these interviews, it will be vital to our success that we take the time and care to answer thorough questions and provide quality solutions. -Evan