25 February 2012

Brazenness and Burglery

This week was a sad week for us. One day, between 7:30 and 10:30pm, our laptops, hard drive, and Mark's work bag with its contents were stolen from our gated, locked, lighted, security-screened house. Within about an hour, the Tongan police were there, and it was the first time a detective and forensics officer have ever investigated any occurance related to us.

12 February 2012

This cyclone season, Tonga may be the new Venice

Kids faka'uha, or take rain baths
While kids in some parts of the world get snow days, kids in Tonga get cyclone days. And while no one wishes for a full, damaging gale-force-winds catastrophe, there is a certain excitement in the air, as workers get half-days, kids stay home from school, and people nail strips of tin roof sheeting over windows to protect the fragile louvers.

We've had two almost-cyclones even this early in the season, and may be due for our third tomorrow. There's something ominous and half exciting about seeing "A TROPICAL CYCLONE WARNING IS NOW INFORCE FOR TONGATAPU GROUP, EUA AND SOUTHERN TONGA WATERS." on the government of Tonga's meteorological site. We're on the Tongatapu group.

06 February 2012

How Aid works (in Tonga)

"So we had a big feast one day, out of the blue. I mean, not even with any reason, just celebrating life, I thought," a friend started the story. "Then guess what! I found out later that Organization X had just received a bunch of funding from Organization Y!"

While this doesn't happen as frequently as the stories make it out to be, aid funding in Tonga is a part of life- a part that is sometimes needed, sometimes taken advantage of, sometimes in the news, and frequently misunderstood. Speaking from personal experience, it is hard to understand aid's complexities.

Road donated by China Aid, with a helpful sign: "CHINA AID" (from blog.travelpod.com)

After spending several years on the other side of the fence with cash-strapped nonprofits, always wondering about the inscrutable decisions of the funding organizations, working at my new job now has been incredibly enlightening. Suddenly, I understand. I can't speak for anything but the processes I currently work with, but here's how it's done in my job:

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