Friday, November 02, 2007

Just a bit about daily life

Friends are always asking about what I do every day. It's difficult to give an example of just one day because I work in three areas of Laos. Our main project, doing medical upgrading and assisting people injured by unexploded ordnance, is focused in the south in the provinces crossed by the old Ho Chi Minh trails. I spend at least half the month there and end up taking the overnight bus to Vientiane, the capital of the country, for meetings and report writing. And then we have work in the north - strengthening the systems of providing UXO survivor assistance which includes immediate medical treatment as well as providing vocational training and economic funds for people who have been injured by unexploded ordnance.

There's a lot of travel involved. So on Wednesday, we returned to Vientiane by truck, an eight hour drive along twisty mountain roads. This is what the road looks like just north of Vang Vieng, one of the most beautiful places in the country:

On a travel day like this, I wake up about 5 am, usually with the intent of going for a run; however, I most often end up packing the things I had forgotten the night before. We planned to leave at 7 am - however during the evening people kept calling, asking to send things with us or trying to get a lift. So starting at 7, my field assistant went around collecting people and things. Then we had too many things, so I told them to unload some bags so we could put the rain tarp on top of everything. So about 8:30, we set off.

Our first stop was at a school, to meet the father of one of the UXO survivors we helped. The child had been taking medication so I wanted to check that he was still doing all right. Problem solving done, we continued on, stopping at another village to check in with another UXO survivor. As usual, we had lunch in Kasi followed by four more hours of driving to Vientiane - where it started to rain. Got home at about 7 pm. I wanted to conk out right away - but NaNo was going to start at midnight. I stayed up and starting writing at midnight. And that was my day!

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