It doesn’t seem like it, but I am now at the halfway point of my PULSE journey. It feels like I just arrived here a few weeks ago and not 3 months ago. The time is really flying, but I have learned so much already. When I arrived here in Nairobi in the beginning of June I was greeted by temperatures around 50 F (10 C) at night and 62 F (16 C) during the day. Not the kind of weather that I am used to in June. Not to mention the culture shock of coming to a new country.
When I first started my PULSE assignment at AMREF, there were 4 major objectives that I put down on my PULSE PDP that I wanted to accomplish here. The first objective was the creation of a document that AMREF could use when determining what kind of mHealth applications they could use to better track the progress of their projects from their field agents. Some of this information already existed, but it was scattered about at different office locations here in Kenya and at offices in other countries. This objective is now complete. I looked at 10 different mHealth applications, and gave the pros and cons for each application. The goal here was not to show which application was the best, but to use this information as a guide on a project by project basis. Since Internet service can be poor in some areas of the country, and the types of cell phones available can be basic there is no one size fits all type of mHealth application.
As for my second objective, it looks like I will be completing that by the end of this week. We are winding down the annual budget planning process for the new fiscal year which begins on October 1st. I was tasked with getting the budgets from all of the AMREF offices here in Africa as well as North America and Europe. These budgets were all sent to me using a standard Excel template, and I needed to combine them all into an overall budget so analysis could be done on the information to be presented to the board of directors on September 23rd. Easier said than done. We had to go through several budget cycles, and I had to chase down offices and departments that were late in submitting their information. The worst offenders were right in my building, but with a couple of high level names carbon copied on my Emails, with their permission, to these groups I was finally able to get the information.
My third objective will be the most challenging of my assignment. We are rolling out a new information management system near the end of October, and I am working with the IT staff on writing technical and user documentation, creating test plans, and creating training plans for this new system. When the system goes live, I will be travelling to 4 different countries to train people how to use this system. One of the team members on this project is right out of college, and I asked him to put together some technical documentation about the parts of the system that he is working on. After I looked at the information he gave me, I saw that there was information missing. I decided to add the missing information to the technical document and shared the new document with him to use as a teaching guide for future projects. We all had to start somewhere so I felt good in sharing my experience with someone who is just starting out in their career.
My final objective is one that most people do not think about, and that is the transition of my activities to the staff at AMREF so they can continue to keep these projects going after my PULSE assignment has been completed. I have already blocked out the final 3 weeks of my assignment for transition activities with the approval of my manager here at AMREF. I would recommend that this should be a standard part of any PULSE assignment so our projects can be sustained by the NGO’s we are working with after we leave.
Finally, I would like to send out a big thank you to the EIS and Application Services groups at the GSK office here in Nairobi. I was having some trouble with my laptop, and the tech people at my NGO could not figure out how to fix the problem. I was put in contact with the GSK office here, and I travelled there one day last week to have my laptop looked at. The team there was able to fix the problems that I was having, and my laptop is working well again. I sent a thank you Email to their manager for all the help they gave me that day.
I have a trip planned to travel home for a week on October 4th. I will have been away for 4 months by then. I’m sure that my wife will have the “honey do” list (Honey do this…Honey do that) ready for me when I get there.