On Monday I rocked up to work at 8am to an empty office in an empty corridor of a pretty empty Fisheries Administration building. Nothing strange there, or for the next couple of hours as I sat alone reading through emails and doing a bit of work for some upcoming meetings and training at VSO.
And then it all turned a bit strange! I was summoned to see Hong Hyi (oh he of the single long hair protruding from his chin and bane of poor Sophea’s life).
Over my time in the Ministry of Fish I’ve worked out that Hong Hyi is actually the main sticking block when it comes to getting the HR team to engage with the work I’m here to do. I haven’t worked out what his political agenda is, I just know that he has one and it doesn’t include doing what the EU ask of him. A couple of weeks ago at one of the fabulously dull meetings I sometimes attend he had argued vociferously against the head of the EU programme’s suggestion that, in the bid for funding for 2017 his department should change the focus of their work from delivering training direct to communities to supporting the development of staff capacity in the provinces for them to then be able to go out to communities and cascade the training.
Sure enough, when the bid was submitted, there was the same old request for travel and subsistence (DSA) for staff from Fisheries Central Office to deliver training in each and every community fishery. At the time I afforded myself a little snigger and thought little more of it.
Which brings me back to Monday and my summons. I trotted down to Hong Hyi’s office and, without looking up from what he was doing,he beckoned for me to sit next to him at the computer. Once there he opened up a spreadsheet and started muttering about change and training of trainers and communities and a lot of stuff that didn’t make a lot of sense. Thankfully the spreadsheet was in English and so as he rambled on I had a read and it all became crystal clear. He had called me down to ask me to help him to change his bid as it had been rejected by the EU for not focusing on capacity building (exactly what he’d been asked to focus it on in the meeting I referred to previously). And he was neither happy with having to change the bid nor the fact that he didn’t know how to and therefore needed my help. I tried to surpress my urge to adopt a smug grin and focused instead on how lovely it felt to be asked to inpit into the work of my department in the Administration and together we came up with suitable wording that helped him to understand what it was that he was now asking for money for.
After this little triumph I went back to my office to continue my week absolutely basking in the glory of having been asked to help and by non other than Hong Hyi – surely this had to be the pinnacle of my week.
But no. Since then I’ve managed to overcome a huge hurdle in our quest to pilot job descriptions in the Administration thanks to an introduction to a whirlwind of a woman with connections in the right places on Tuesday. And ftoday I finally met up with a slippery fish at the Ministry of Agriculture to get started on another piece of training and development work I’ve been asked to complete.
I don’t know whether they’ve put something in the water or if the full moon last week has shifted something but whatever it is I’m not complaining. After being here for nearly 4 months already I finally feel like I might be making progress at work – something I’d almost given up on.
All I can say is, long may it last!