From the Philippines to CAR…

Well, my holiday is officially over, and there’s no more time to dwell on the post-holiday comedown, as I’m right back into the swing of things again!

I got back to the Philippines a week ago, and had a couple of days with my manager in Manila, before travelling to Ormoc via Tacloban. I had a nice couple of days catching up with some peeps in Tacloban over the weekend, and generally getting back into work mode. The night I arrived there was a fantastic torchlight parade through the streets of Tacloban to celebrate World Water Day, complete with fire-dancers and all sorts of fun performances.


It’s very hot and humid now, and still pissing with rain most of the time. Apparently this is the “dry season”, and by that I mean that it’s generally a bit less wet than the typhoon season. Or as several colleagues have informed me, there are two seasons in the Philippines, Wet and Very Wet. So this would be the Wet Season.

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Happiness, and other YouTube videos…

So, while on holiday I had plenty of time to fall down an internet hole and trawl the web for fun and interesting things…

This brilliant video, courtesy of UNDP and Pharrell Williams, shows perfectly the fantastically upbeat spirit of the Filipino people, always ready to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start rebuilding, with a smile on their faces. I’ve already watched it about 8 times and it still makes me smile. The perfect antidote for the post-holiday blues!

While we’re on the subject of YouTube videos, here’s a few more that caught my eye.

This equally brilliant but far more depressing video from Save the Children tries to show people in the UK what it would be like if something like the situation in Syria happened to us, through the eyes of a child. Depressing but incredibly moving and sadly a stark reality for thousands of Syrian people in the last 3 years.

And on a more cheery note, this hilarious video of Things Cats do that would be creepy if humans did them. Cracks me up.

While we’re on the subject of funny things, this list of poorly chosen book titles made me laugh out loud too.

And how could I forget the fantastic Philomena Cunk’s Moments of Wonder? Genius.

So, those are a few of the things I found on the interwebs this month that made me laugh, smile, and think.

Now go watch the Happy video one more time to cheer yourself up!


Life in the Hub…

Well, so much going on around here!

I’m still pretty tired and grumpy at the moment, so not much has changed there.

Life in the UN hub is interesting….

Last weekend we got invited to a UN party, which I get VERY excited about (my first official aid worker party since I got here). Was all excited, and even borrowed some make-up from a colleague on the off-chance that there might be lots of young hot things there. Sadly I was extremely disappointed. We arrived at the “party” which was about 6 or 7 guys, plus a couple of girls, sitting around very quietly outside under a really bright fluorescent light. They were all middle-aged, mostly leathery Norweigians, plus a mildly sleazy frenchman attempting to be suave. Continue reading

Sleeping Beauty…

Monday 10th February

There are thankfully a very small number of you out there who know precisely how grumpy I can be when I’m tired. Lack of sleep does not make me a chirpy, happy bunny, and I have been known to just grunt at people when very tired, especially when I’m not yet fully awake in the morning.

So it is a great shame that since coming back to Eastern Samar, I have slept very badly every night for a wide variety of frustrating reasons, which is slowly wearing me down and making me feel grumpier and grumpier….

The last time I was here for the EMMA, there was a tropical depression passing through, so it was very wet and windy, but lovely and cool. My colleague and I both slept well, although the mosquitos were out in full force, and I had to put up my mozzie net over the bed. However this time round, when I returned for 2 and a half more weeks to support some cash programming, it’s hot as hell, and very, very humid and sticky.

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January 2014

FYI – those of you who are bored of me harping on about market systems should probably skip this post and go read the newspaper instead. 🙂

Towards the end of January I went to Eastern Samar for a week to help support (and get trained on) an EMMA. For those of you who are wondering, EMMA is not a woman, it is an Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis tool (you can find out more about the toolkit on the EMMA website).

With an EMMA, you select one critical commodity that you want to learn more about (could be soap, rice, wheat flour, chickens, taxis, etc) and map out the market chain, looking at supply chains, end users, and all of the other factors that influence that product getting from the manufacturer to the consumer.

Totally fascinating I know.


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Challenge Anneka – The Great Rice Seed Race

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This week’s fictional guest post is by Anneka Rice, 90’s TV personality and star of “Challenge Anneka”

*Disclaimer – Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, and any similarities between this post and actual aid work should not be taken seriously. 

December 5th 2013


Hi folks, it’s me, Anneka Rice here. I’ve been dragged out of retirement to help support the emergency response after a massive super-typhoon (Haiyan/Yolanda) cut a swathe of destruction through the middle of the Philippines. Maya asked me to help out by writing about our adventures on her blog, as she’s been a bit too busy to jot it all down.

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Most of you will remember me fondly from my “Challenge Anneka” days back in the 90’s. If you don’t, feel free to look me up on the interweb. I’m the one wearing the sexy neon jumpsuits and hanging out of helicopters.

Now then, Maya’s been in the province of Leyte, in a city called Tacloban, which was totally destroyed by the typhoon and subsequent storm surge (the waves were over 10 metres high! Can you imagine?). So let me set the scene for you.

Rice is one of the major staple crops here in Leyte, and in November most farmers had either just harvested, or were about to harvest their crops when the storm hit, wiping out almost all of their harvest, including their seeds. The next planting season is in December, towards the end of the rainy season, and it is crucial that the farmers are able to plant the next crop – as 2 failed harvests in a row means there could be a massive rice shortage in the coming year across the Philippines, not to mention the fact that those poor farmers won’t be able to sell anything or make any money for several months. Tragic!

So, Maya, along with her organisation, have decided to give out rice seeds to approximately 10,000 rice farmers in order to help them plant their crops before the rains come to an end.

So here we are, in the thick of it! It feels just like the good old days of Challenge! I dusted off my favourite pink and blue jumpsuit and headed for Tacloban. Maya told me the rice had to be planted by December 15th so the pressure’s on! Only 10 days to distribute 10,000 sacks of rice seed!

(I did point out to Maya that it would make for much better television if we could try and do it all in 3 days, but she didn’t look too keen on the idea. Plus technically my film crew aren’t actually here, but still, it’s the drama of a ticking clock that draws a crowd, and gets the adrenaline pumping!)

Anyhoo, it’s all Terribly Exciting, and there’s a lot of high-stakes pressure here. Continue reading