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Haiti Music School

Jume (CA)
The Dessaix-Baptiste Music School , Argentina

For Jume, it all began sitting around a campfire with friends in Waddi Rum, Jordan, one of which was a CA, the other in HR. Jume was saying how she wanted to do something different, fun and relevant to her skills. The conversation is below... and the rest, they say, is history!
 
BC 1 (BC = Bean Counter): I really want to do something different, something worthwhile but that's fun at the same time.
HH (HH = Head Hunter): What type of things are you interested in?
BC 1 = Dunno, just something more than just work to live!
HH: There are plenty organisations who would welcome your skills; just have a look around. When you see what you want to be involved with, just write to them.
BC 2: Have you heard of aphid (that is what I thought was said).
BC 1: green flies - what do you mean?  (I thought she might have mistaken mosquitoes for aphids!)
BC 2: No, you idiot! A-f-I-D. 
BC 1: What the heck is that?
BC 2: Accounting for International Development.
 
(You have to understand that by this time, after a jeep ride / race across the desert, yelling, giggling yodelling at the top of our voices; watching the sun set and the moon rise, it is very surprising how one small beer can be oh so... intoxicating! (And if you believe that it was just one small beer, you are unbelievably gullible!
 
AfID workshop and how I got hooked 
 
It was a full as well as a full on day, informative and illustrative. At the end of the formal workshop, a past volunteer came in and shared with us her experience as an AfID volunteer.
 
As we were leaving the premises, Neil (AfID's founder) said: "Guys, I will be in touch with you all next week. I thought that I would mention that there is a shortage of volunteers with languages, especially French and Spanish. So if you have languages, don't hold back and I look forward to hearing from you."
 
Suffice to say that by mid-May, I was fully committed to a 4 week assignment in Haiti.
 
The first time I spoke with Janet on Skype, she asked me very simply what was my motivation and why EMDB.
 
I replied that I wanted to make a difference, make a small contribution to those who are less privileged that I am. I love music and believe in its uplifting and healing powers. My kids enjoyed music camp and I would like to help other kids to have the same pleasure... 
 
Janet then asked why Haiti. I said that my holiday plan for the rest of 2013 was 10 days on the Small Isles in Scotland (Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna) in the summer and a week in France in September. I had wanted to go to islands and also practice my French. Haiti fits all of my requirements: to do something worthwhile and make a difference, visit islands and speak French. Throw music in to the equation and what more could I have wished for even although a Caribbean country did not feature on my bucket list at all?
 
Mundane chores... such as flights, visas, vaccinations are easy to deal with.  I was on auto-pilot doing these bits.
 
What was not so easy was the professional prepping. As a highly organised individual, a well-trained auditor and project manager, prepping for an assignment is second nature to me. But how on earth do you prep for something like this: people whom you have not met before, a fairly tight timetable, a time difference of 6 hours (behind GMT), a different culture, an NGO who has grown very rapidly and without the luxury of infrastructure... and not to mention my fairly rusty French!
 
However, against these potential challenges, I have a fair amount of experience, I am motivated, culturally aware, conscientious and a lateral thinker...so, I guess, I am in as good a position as I can be to deal with whatever this assignment may bring.
 
I bought Larousse dictionary for my iPad, a dictionary of accounting terms, did some research of available accounting packages both conventional on-premise as well as cloud based packages... but all this is nothing more than tinkering round the edges. The most critical success factor is actually knowing in advance who does what, when and the external reporting requirements so that an adequate plan can be drawn up to enable me to hit the ground running.
 
Once again, I am lucky. There is an ex AfID volunteer who is now working full time in Haiti. Neil put me in touch with Bryan. And bless him, Bryan agreed to spend a weekend at the school and gather some data for me. With Bryan's input I was able to formulate a plan, but even so, a reality check will be applied to this plan once I get there and had a quick appraisal of the situation.
 
Here are the gems that have been ingathered:
 
Cloud based accounting package, despite its obvious advantages is not a viable option as internet connectivity is not sufficiently reliable;
Electricity supply is patchy, therefore it is advisable to keep devices charged up when there is electricity available;
There is no joined up financial information and there seems to be no clear allocation of financial responsibilities.
There is a silver lining in all of these black clouds...
 
Continue to follow Jume and her experience with Haiti Music School from when she flies out on the 17th August 2013…
 
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