This evening we met at IBM Morocco for a conference call with the CSC Program Management. We provided status updates and our thoughts about our experiences so far and the outlooks.
And we were able to make a great team photo together with Hassan Bahej, Country General Manager of IBM Morocco.
These are just a few samples of the HIV education material ALCS is using. And this organization does much more than just distributing flyers! I’m proud to support such an important and engaged association!
So far we could not meet several important people from ALCS, as they were engaged at an international HIV conference in Montpellier (FR). Today we finally had the honor to meet them in personal, e.g. Madame Fouzia Bennani, the head of ALCS and Madame Hakima Himmich, the founder of ALCS. We presented what our team has been working on so far. Generally we seem to have the same understanding. So, we continued to work on our SOW and almost finalized the objectives.
This Tuesday Cathy, Patrick, Ram and me were welcomed at the ALCS headquarter for starting the initial phase of our project. We have to get an overview of their issues which the IBM subteam will possibly analyze deeper in the next few weeks. After a quick tour through their offices – while making notes about the IT equipment – Nidal explained us issues which they are having with their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
It was a very informative but also tough session, as it was mainly in French (thanks Patrick for translating) and we didn’t know much about this system before. Good luck we got Moroccan tea (and my chocolates from Switzerland) as energy kicks. At the end of the day we had filled multiple slide charts already.
Next day we continued to discuss more of the IT related problems together with Karima and Kezna. Personally, the new topics suited a bit better to my experience profile. I caught myself normalizing tables in my head and thinking about an inexact search. As it turned out it was the same for Patrick and Ram (both having a strong development background)… fortunately, Cathy brought us back to the business side.
One promising sign that we understand our partner was the topic about the donor’s database resp. application: during a discussion about ALCS’ dream I was drafting a GUI (graphical user interface). At the end Kezna – pointing at my drawings at the flip chart – said: “Cela, ç’est mon rêve!” (This is exactly my dream!)
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Ok, enough being tourists for the next few days! We started business with a formal meeting (we all transformed into business clothes suddenly) with IBM Morocco management and DOT – and representative from the NGOs; finally met them face-to-face. After the meeting, each team visited their specific client’s locations and started with their work.
We were pleased to meet Nidal and Karima from ALCS (Association de lutte contre le sida) and were even more excited about their presentation of their amazing organization and the work they perform:
- Prevent HIV infection
- Provide care and psychological support for HIV-affected individuals
- Deliver advocacy and human rights activities for the support of HIV-affected individuals
A terrific experience was the training session for sex professionals about condom usage and tips about what to do if a customer refuses to use a condom. But it took me actually some time to understand what these women were working – they looked like any other ordinary woman… and indeed they are, right?!?
Next we could talk with medical volunteer who performs the HIV tests. They are able to provide the result after a few minutes; records are kept anonymously and the volunteers are trained to break bad news to the people.
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I am aware that these terms and pictures are not very “comfortable” topics, but the ALCS organization is fighting against exactly these kind of taboos – so why not supporting them to spread their message?
On the way back to our hotel we walked through the big park and visited the cathedral, which is used as a museum nowadays. We could walk up onto the tower (minding birds nest and eggs) and enjoyed the great view over Casablanca. Strange thing was that we paid 30 Dh (about $3) each – just read in Sue’s blog that they were charged 20 Dh ($2) only!
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One thing every CSC member in the preparation phase impatiently is waiting for is the project and team assignment note. I was delighted to learn that I will work for ALCS – Association de Lutte Contre le Sida (Association for fighting AIDS).
I will be working together with Cathy (US), Ram (IN) and Patrick (FR) and am already looking forward to working with them together for a really impressive NGO. The SOW (Scope of Work) is drafted, but will be discussed in detail once we’re landed. The first call with the NGO leaders was very interesting, even though it was mainly in French and I only got about 75% of it… or even less. Thanks to Patrick for his summaries and the initiative for a call after the call (now in English).