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Good advice and real work

Friday, November 10, 2006 by Marianne Elliott

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So, the bromazepam helped me sleep well last night, but an even better remedy came along this afternoon in the form of an invitation to sit on the couch, drink red wine and watch movies from my fellow Herat blogger and friend along with some very good advice (which she says comes from World Food Program booklet on stress management for people working in these kind of missions). The advice was:

"accepting our feelings a little more,
and judging them a little less,
is a great stress reducer".
I feel the most incredible sense of relief just reading those words. Of course it was terrible timing for me to suddenly be hit by this overwhelm, this insomnia, this rollercoaster of emotion just as Mac arrived in town. But spending so much time hating myself for not being able to control that wasn't getting me anywhere.
So – back to the real work, which is a great way to distract myself from these emotional maelstroms. Today I've been writing up the report of a meeting of different groups (government departments, UN agencies and NGOs) who are interested in coming up with a cooperative approach to the problem of hundreds of children who are working at the border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran.
It was a good, productive meeting and I really enjoyed the healthy debate between the pragmatists (who accept that the children are going to work and want to concentrate on their health and safety) and those who want to focus more on the fundamental child rights issues (most importantly their right to an education). I enjoyed watching people come up with compromises and creative solutions that, hopefully, will take all these different perspectives into account.
At the end of the meeting I was asked to write up the report of the outcomes of the meeting since, as the participants pointed out that my Language Assistant and I had done such a great job of the previous report (which reported on the findings of our joint survey of the children working at the border). But I told them all that I know the real reason they asked us to do the report is because it's the only thing we are any good at – writing reports. Well, it is not far from the truth, it got a good laugh, and for once I felt good about it!
In other developments today, I'm making prgress towards getting a fabulous Canadian lawyer (one of the first people I met in Kabul and a very good friend) out to one of the remote provinces in our region to run a three day long training course for prosectuors. The course is going to be on the basics of criminal justice, illustrated by cases involving women! It's an exciting project for me, and the fact that I get to work with a good friend just adds to the fun.
We had some wobbles getting the project off the ground, but now everyone is happy for us to go ahead and I'm feeling very excited about it. I'm planning to have it happen around 10 December – Human Rights Day, so that I can use it as a key event to focus celebrations of human rights in the province with a focus on rule of law and women's rights (not the official theme for this year but certainly amongst the most commonly cited issues of concern to people on the ground.
So things are ticking along and despite insomnia and anxiety and hormone related emotional meltdowns, I think I can chalk this week up as a good one.
Tommorrow is Friday, which means time for my list of reasons to be happy, so I'll make my morning soy latte wait for inspiration to strike. Til then.

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One Response to "Good advice and real work"

  1. […] I remember when I was in Afghanistan, beginning what ended up being a fairly lengthy period of anxiety and trauma-related depression, being given this really good advice by a colleague: […]

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