In March 2008, CAWST’s newest International Technical Advisor (ITA), Melinda Foran headed off to Zambia for her first international trip to deliver training workshops to CAWST’s clients in the region. Following her trip, we sat down with her to find out about her experience.
What did you do when you first arrived in Lusaka?
I arrived at the airport and was greeted by Evans Chiyenge, the Technical Director of Seeds of Hope International Partners (SHIP). Immediately off the plane, I needed to handle some of the logistics for the training, including finding a place to get the training material printed, getting a sim card for my cell phone and checking out the training facility and filter production facility.
What workshops did you provide?
The first workshop was the ‘Community Health Promotion for the Biosand Filter’ workshop, which was held in Ndola. It was great to be able to follow the lead of CAWST’s other ITA for Africa, Tal Woolsey. I learned a lot from his presentation style.
Our second workshop in Ndola was the ‘Project Implementation for the Biosand Filter’ workshop. Evans and I facilitated the workshop with the assistance of Tal. We had a special focus on preparing a project proposal for a group of interested donors at a presentation to celebrate World Water Day.
After, Evans and I did a similar workshop in Lusaka for 17 participants. It was my first time facilitating without Tal; it ran smoothly and although there were long 14-hour days, there were some really great outcomes!
What were the outcomes?
The two biggest outcomes were, first of all, expanding into Lusaka and meeting with new NGOs. It was a very positive start. Secondly, for me, was completing my apprentice training. Being able to confidently deliver training in the field without assistance has been a wonderful personal accomplishment.
What are challenges when doing the training workshops?
Finding the right sand source for biosand filter construction was challenging, but an amazing learning experience. We spent a large amount of time searching for the right sand. We ended up speaking with a company that had quarry dust, which was not a sellable product for them but good for filter construction. It looks like it could turn out to be a really good partnership.
There was also the challenge with translation in the first workshop. The participants had a working knowledge of English, which worked fine for the first day of the workshop. We decided to have a translator for the second day and there was a significant increase in the participation level.
With the workshops being held in two cities, how did you travel back and forth?
From Lusaka to Ndola, we took the Post-Bus. It was a 4 ½ hour drive, which wasn’t too bad. It has a set schedule and runs on time because it delivers the mail and goes back and forth twice a day.
A common question that is asked and varies from country to country is: what did you eat and drink?
Most of the time we ate enshima, which is a white maize paste or rice with fish or chicken, some carrots and cabbage usually, and the spices were amazing! When we were at SHIP, we drank water from the biosand filter, plus there was always a very nice tea break in the afternoon.
What is your one travel essential?
Other than flexibility, my one travel essential would have to be my Chacos, because good footwear is the foundation of happy travel.
What would you do differently next time?
I would allow more time in the schedule for set up and hopefully have a little more time to get to know the country that I am working in.
Coming out of your trip, what are you most excited about?
SHIP is an established organization with many dedicated and skilled employees and volunteers. I am extremely excited that CAWST will be working with SHIP to establish them as a local Water Expertise Training Centre (WETC) to support other organizations in Zambia and the region.