It’s already the end of September and I feel like I just arrived. Well, they do say that time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve definitely been enjoying myself here thus far and feel incredibly grateful for this opportunity to live and work in Nigeria.
Since arriving in July, I’ve developed my work plan for the year and have settled nicely into my role with Hope for the Village Child Foundation (HVCF). One of the main tasks I’ve been working on is conducting research into the operations of the organization’s Health section and on-site clinic to see how it can become financially sustainable by the end of 2012.
I’ve also been overseeing the development of baseline surveys for the Education, Women’s Development, and Secure Livelihoods/Agriculture sections. Last week, the HVCF Organizational Development Committee hosted a staff retreat to train the team on new skills and tools and I facilitated a full-day session on “monitoring.”
Next week, I’ll be travelling to Lafia, Nasarawa State, which is approximately three hours south of Kaduna, for an event hosted by VSO Nigeria about “Making Markets Work for the Poor,” which I’m really looking forward to. Although I’m currently working for a nonprofit, I’m very drawn to market-based solutions to poverty alleviation and development.
I absolutely love going to the villages. The routes are hidden in the natural landscapes of trees, flowers and farms unless you know where you’re going and sometimes I wonder how the drivers find their way. Once we go off the main dirt road, there is nothing to guide us but greenery and puddles and yet somehow we arrive. Driving deep into the bush is sometimes uncomfortably bumpy and always wonderfully scenic. We wave at farmers working in their fields, children playing, and women on their way to the market to sell their goods.
At the HVCF on-site clinic one day, I gave polio immunizations to infants. I’m definitely expanding my horizons and learning a lot about south Kaduna, working for an NGO and operating in a developing country.
Outside of work, I’ve adjusted to living without power, bartering for everything and extensive Nigerian greetings. A lot of my time is spent on almost daily trips to the market to buy produce, hand washing my clothes and explaining to my neighbors that I don’t go to the church or mosque (apparently I’m a “free thinker”). I’m taking Hausa lessons with an elderly man who, many years ago, used to work for the BBC Hausa radio station. It’s really fun to be learning a new language and people get excited when I try conversing in Hausa. In my free time, I tutor one of my neighbors, a fifteen-year-old girl named Mary, in English, commerce and geography.
I’ve just celebrated my twenty seventh birthday and was reflecting on where I was at this time last year. I was in Athens, Greece with my grandmother and was working remotely as a project manager for Qualvu, a job and company I loved. Right now, though, I feel as if I’m exactly where I’m meant to be and that’s a very good feeling.
Christine M. Adolf (BBA ’07) is spending a year in Nigeria as a CUSO International volunteer, exploring how she can use her background in business to empower people living in poverty around the world. Her interests include yoga, reading, dancing, social entrepreneurship and exploring new places.