Painting by Mohammad Abu Shaaban, M&E Coordinator at UNDP office in Gaza

Determining my own plans and setting up my own attendance time were always strong reasons that urged me to start my own business. You will never recognize this space, until you truly experience it.

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit our community, I long waited for the “work from home” directive. I did not know why I have badly wanted it, but it seems I was longing to decide when to wake up, when to start my work and above all to enjoy this feeling while working at home. In the past few years, I have missed a long home break, that I could not have due to the overwhelming work load and the constant changes in the business environment.  

“Work from Home” was the policy since last week. A week that completely changed my perspective on what work from home really means. I just felt isolated, felt so distant from work, felt outside home, despite being home. I miss my colleagues, the diversity, the challenges and above all, the collective spirit of teamwork.

Truly surprised of the contradictions that emerged. The great passion that I had at the beginning but ended with low interest to maintain the work from home arrangement. It seems that some time, we get what we want, but other times, we do not. As we experience new things, we leave the actual wins that we were not aware of behind.

At the beginning of the year, I had a great interest in the United Nations call of “Decade of Action”. I have even reflected this into my personal life. It’s in these10 years that I can achieve my ambitions - but how many 10 years each of us will have in his/her life - empowered with the determination I see to achieve the SDGs.

As the current crises erupted, the world started to shift from focusing on the SDGs towards overcoming the new Corona virus pandemic. A challenge that might continue for long with the possible loss of many lives around the world. How this would affect our work, as a development organization, how would it affect our ongoing programmes, how would it impact our partners and above all our beneficiaries, the young people. We are between two options, both hard. To stop operations to save their lives or continue serving them to support them, a dilemma that requires serious considerations.  

The decision to stop operations and continue in the same time entitles a great contradiction. Yet we need to take this hard walk towards achieving sustainable development to reach our mission equipped with all the tool necessary, with a passion to engage and be creative either at home, or office or in quarantine.

Another zoom meeting with UNDP colleagues in Gaza

From the first moment, we intensified our work, encouraged each other, and we are almost achieving the same level while implementing projects and interventions. We are trying as a team to integrate ideas to get the best out of each one of us.

Our main concern now is to continue our interventions for the sake of all the beneficiaries and stakeholders and to leave no one behind, to achieve our mission, serve humanity in order not to add new layers of vulnerability to an already existing vulnerable population or deepen the poverty levels and create a legion of new poor.  

Usually our dreams are awake before our bodies. As an M&E coordinator, my dreams start with collecting data. It gets more complicated during the days that precede the analysis. Sometimes I wake up either happy or terrified. Well, these are my dreams. Last night, my dreams were nightmares as I have not been able to find a way to meet with my colleagues and the implementing partners working on data collection for the first quarter of a long and challenging 2020 year.

In the morning, as I started to sort out my thoughts. I have received an email from colleagues who suggested creative approaches of how to complete the work under the current crises. We were not only collecting data about our beneficiaries, but also number of children in each house, the number of talents, and how people spend their time and how they assist their partners. I was thrilled and amused. Even my children started to repeat the names of my colleagues, waiting for the next virtual meeting. A rich experience with social traits that we missed. It is a learning experience that we needed to exchange with each other.

In such a hard time that marks excessive psychological pressure and conflicting desires, we try to flee at different directions rescuing what is left of us.

I have listed several activities… those continued to increase with the first activity, I commenced with. Memories have been evoked… All of a sudden, I pulled out my oil colours and painting materials and started to recall my passion of drawing. I started with black; a few days later, I was able to mingle blue with white. This was an unconscious play with colour. I have gotten better. My colour of life has changed to become more sparkling. Today, I stand before many activities that I am going to start soon. I will keep you updated.  

All excited here, passionate and eager to continue and offer the best of what we can among the different contradictions.  We learn from our failures; from success we tailor success stories.

Mohammed Abu Shaaban works as a monitoring and evaluation coordinator at UNDP office in Gaza.

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