I never knew how relevant I was with a help desk role until this project came along. I was assigned to be in charge of solving any technical or social issues field enumerators might encounter during the fieldwork.
The enumerators for the fieldwork at Orhionmwon local government area in Edo State were trained and they got first hand training experience by using the ODK application on tablets. After the training, they were allowed to ask questions after which they were interviewed one after the other to make sure they were the best for the job. There were 4 ladies that were also part of the enumerators trained. During the interview the interviewer tried to discourage these ladies with suggestions like there would be lots of mosquitoes, there will be no beds and there will be no time for make up but these ladies were not backing down. They kept on saying they were up to the task. It was fun to watch how they were trying to convince the interviewer. The results from the interview were very impressive and we were confident that the fieldwork would be a success. We made sure to pair the ladies with guys just incase.
A day before they were to leave to begin the exercise, we had a brief session with all the field enumerators and they were given a number to call (my number) just in case they were facing any challenges. It was more like a help desk.
On the first day of the exercise my phone was ringing off the hook, field enumerators calling with different questions that we had already tackled during the training session. I talked them through their challenges and they were good to go. For example, because of the light issues in some communities, some field enumerators found it difficult to charge their phones. I advised them to look for the nearest community that has light, leave their power banks there to charge during the day and then at the close of work they should take their phones there to charge overnight.
After these calls, I started wondering why they were not so confident in themselves and I realized its just like your first day at school or your place of work. During my first day in school I was so quiet trying to avoid everyone in order not to step on anyone’s toes, it was the same experience on my first day at work. Everyone has different experiences, some dive in and mix up easily while others take their time to learn the ropes. Although there might be a feeling of uneasiness on your first day, it gets better as the days go by. So I likened this to the fieldwork, first day on the job and some were feeling not so confident.
On the second day, at some point during the day I was actually staring at my phone waiting for it to ring but to my surprise no one called. Good for them but for me I wanted them to call because I love being in a position were I can help others solve their challenges.
At the end of each day, each team sent in their report and at the beginning of the next day, I would send out text messages to all teams with details of the total number of farms each team covered the day before. So all teams got to see how their colleagues were performing. I felt this would motivate them and make each team want to be at the top of the list. Whenever I sent out the performance of each team no one responded and I thought well maybe they are so focused on their task that they are not bothered about the performance of their colleagues. But one fateful day, I was so busy in the office with official assignments that I had to hold out text messages of the previous day’s performance for each team. To my greatest surprise I started getting calls from different teams, in my mind I was like yay!! I get to be a hero again. But that was not the case, what they were calling me for was to ask if I sent out performances for the previous day because they did not receive it and there I was thinking they were not bothered about the messages. They said they always look forward to the text message as it motivates them. In an enumerator’s word, he said he felt like he was in a race and he always wanted to finish first.
Back to the ladies, sure you would want to know how they performed. We were also very eager to know how well they would perform. The reports we got from the ladies were excellent infact they even did better than some male enumerators. There was this particular lady that took charge of her team and everyone was amazed. The performance of the ladies corresponded with the saying “what a man can do a woman can do better”.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience. Although I was not involved in the fieldwork, I got to do what I know how to do best which is solving peoples challenges and I am glad to say the first phase of the project was a success.