Nagging worries

A couple of those smiles that initially welcomed me back last week have faded somewhat since.

Part of my job involves supporting the work of senior Afghan colleagues in the field, not managing them but helping them do their work, building their capacity.

Which is all well and good, but I sometimes worry that, occasionally, that support boils down to me nagging them. I’ve been struggling this week to find the balance between helping and encouraging someone and treading on their toes.

Entirely understandably, I feel some people begrudge my presence. At which point it becomes difficult to provide the support I am supposed to. But taking a hands-off and painstakingly diplomatic approach as I usually try sometimes means work isn’t done as well as I would wish.

It’s hard to describe this without going into the details of my work, which I don’t plan to do. But if there was a British-style tabloid newspaper here, I reckon it would be describing me as a ‘bloody foreigner, comin’ over here, takin’ all our jobs…’

And the Afghanistan Government is giving the impression of taking a similar line. Issues of NGOs’ and foreigners’ tax, visas, work permits and so on are becoming increasingly troublesome. Either they are trying to squeeze more money out of us (which is fair enough, although that money comes from foreign donors), or they’re trying to claw back some of their power. Again, fair play to them.

But increasing the bureaucratic hurdles people have to jump over to work in this country when there is already a shortage of qualified personnel doesn’t seem like the best of ideas.

One thing the government is now requiring of foreign aid workers is an explanation of why they are needed and what they offer that an Afghan can’t provide, and assurances that the foreign worker will work to train a national counterpart to replace them.

Which is quite right too. Though right now I’m struggling, and fear the smiles are getting a little frosty.

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2 Responses to “Nagging worries”

  1. hypnonebula Says:

    Hi there… I don’t really know what’s your job and what are you dealing with… But I still want to share some thoughts here…
    Well, I believe that we can’t help anyone who doesn’t want any help… You can help them but if they don’t want to help themselves your efforts might end up in vain… So I suggest that you back off for a li’l while and see how it goes… If they really really need you, they’ll come to you…
    Hehe… again, I’m not well informed of your actual situation…
    Have a nice day!

  2. harryrud Says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! It’s frustrating not to be able to talk about this properly, but the whole anonyminity thing… Still, I’m inclined to agree with you. We shall see. Happy new year!

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