Friday, May 21, 2010

Lukim iu!

Lukim iu means "see you" in Solomon Islands pigin. Literally "look-em you". Like so much in the Solomon Islands, quite sensical once you know what's happening, but utterly confusing at first. I can't believe I went through almost my whole time here without lots of blog updates!  I'll blame it partially on being very busy with work, long days when the last thing you want to do after finishing work is more writing and staring at a computer. Also, I had lots of good company (research partner and Doug and local friends) for most of the trip, also cutting into my blogging time. I have every intention of picking up the pace though.

So here's a few highlights...
Started off with two weeks in Suva, Fiji. Sadly not the Fiji where I got to sit on a beach sipping drinks with umbrellas, but very interesting. Our work in the South Pacific has to do with children who live away from their parents, a very common practice, and essentially figuring out and explaining why they leave, where they go, who cares for them when they get there, any increased risks associated with moving and whether there's a need for increased intervention and support, and if so, what? For all my public healthers reading this, yes it's huge. Linda would fail the person who wrote the research questions. It's outrageously broad, it's across 4 countries with vastly different cultures and traditions both inside and between the countries, as they're sets of islands. But what's been really good is that as things have come up, we've been more free to follow them and see where they go. For instance, Fiji is on the US State Department tier 3 (the worst) for countries addressing human trafficking. It's a big deal because it means that the US will vote No for any loans Fiji wants from the IMF. Fiji currently wants a billion dollars. So in turn Fiji is now making strides to address trafficking. Bringing the organization we're working to up to date on the international trends and norms, as well as ongoing (and pretty fierce) debates related to trafficking was exciting and will hopefully amount to something. Updates on the intricacies of the debate later, much of it involved people shaking their heads at the the US State Department, sadly.

Then it was off to the Solomon Islands, a world away from Fiji, but really interesting in its own right. This feels like too short a space to talk about all of it, so we'll table this too, aside from saying that the cultural norms in the Solomons are unlike anything I've encountered before, making the standard awareness raising activities and programming implemented by NGOs and UN alike somewhat less applicable in some cases.

I see I've got lots to write about!  But mostly I just wanted to say lukim you all soon (I hope!) because I'm flying home from Fiji today, arriving in Reno on Saturday night and will be stateside for 3 whole weeks before I head out again!  It'll be a packed 3 weeks but I can't wait, aside from the fact that it's supposed to snow in Truckee on Saturday and Sunday.  Back to more substantive things in the future I promise.  Hope everyone's well and be in touch while I'm home!

And just to promote a little Solomon Islands tourism, this is Maravagi and one of the most beautiful places ever. Always nice to have islands nearby to visit on the weekends. I swear I was working hard the rest of the time (photos of offices aren't nearly as exciting).

Giant sting ray, feet and feet across. Also in Maravagi.