Lazy Sunday

So, I’m sorry I’ve been quiet for the past couple of days, I’ve been catching up and running around…

On Wednesday and Thursday we exhibited our ideas for Shelter solutions in Lower Sindh at the UN Habitat National Conference on Learning from Disasters.  It was a fabulous event with lots of people speaking about their various experiences in Pakistan, from the 2005 Earthquake to the 2011 Monsoons…  Pakistan has been hit, again and again by really nasty natural disasters.  These have been compounded by the political disasters that keep hitting the country.  There were brilliant speakers at the event including the former head of the NDMA, National Disaster Management Authority: Lt. Gen. (Retd) Nadeem Ahmed.  He resigned last year from the NDMA, and it seems to be a great pity, as he incredibly passionate about protecting and preparing his country from disasters.  He is very knowledgeable about all the risks that face his homeland.

Other than him, there were numerous other speakers of great note…  The two that shouldn’t have spoken, but did, were the MFI and the MFST who did not add to the value of the event, except to create some uncomfortable giggles!  I’ll explain those terms later!

Yesterday Jackie, a nutrition colleague of mine, and I went for a stroll to the local market, it was a beautiful day and we pottered about for a while in the square in F6 which has a number of different shops selling local and international clothes, trinkets and bits and pieces.  We came back to our guesthouse and sat on the lovely open air balcony that I have exclusive access to off my room!  We drank green tea and ate dried appricots, pistachios and little titbits made of honeycomb and sesame seeds…Oh yeah, and fresh chocolate croissants.  We played BBC Radio 1 on the computer and chilled out.  A lovely relaxing day.

Mark, another colleague, who works as a WASH adviser for Save the Children (Water, Sanitation and Health – or civil engineer with experience of latrines!), arrived back from his visit to lower Sindh yesterday evening.  He’s also staying at the same guesthouse as Jackie and I.

Last night there was an NGO party on at a house in E7.  (Islamabad is planned city all laid out in a controlled grid system, very easy to find everything – each grid is probably about 2km by 2km in size)So Jackie, Mark and I had some relaxing drinks in my room and on the deck for a while.  Jackie and Mark indulging in some moonshine…  I’m on the wagon in Pakistan! 🙂  I stuck to the Green Tea…  Anyway, after we were warmed up with our preparatory drinks, we took a local taxi to the party, travelling via the flower market to pick up some beautiful fresh flowers for the birthday girl at the party.  It’s fun going to the flower market, they have beautiful flowers, gorgeously exotic…  I’ll take some photos and post.

Anyway, I got to the party and wandered around for a bit.  A beautiful house and garden with pretty, daisy-chain lights in the trees… It was a gorgeous, clear night with beautiful stars in the sky… But I guess this teetotal thing is not conducive to making small talk.. I wasn’t in the mood to stay, so I did a really, really bad thing…  I scarpered!  And I walked home!  REALLY not a good idea!  There was a mugging in Saidpur Valley yesterday – three UN employees and an Embassy staffer were out hiking around the area of the Margalla hills and were held up at gunpoint.  They are fine, uninjured except for their wallets and their pride.  The route that I walked home was straight down Margalla Road, immediately adjacent to the area where the people were mugged – so pretty, bloody stupid!  All’s well that ends well though, I walked home swiftly and stayed close to where the security gaurds were.  Each house has a security man posted outside, and these houses are right next to each other.  But, I’m not going to do anything that stupid again, Inshallah!

Jackie and Mark arrived back to the guesthouse at 4am and gave a knock on my door.  They were in fine fettle!  We had a good old giggle in the room, probably waking half the guesthouse!  Jackie was telling the stories of how Mark had been trying to hit on all the ladies at the party.  She did little schmoozy dance moves to demonstrate his smooth techniques with the Laydeez using great little improvised sounds from the 70s, click here for a slightly edited version of Jackie’s sound today! 😀 Jackie

Happy Days!

Evening all!  Hope your day was as pleasant as mine!  Its just gone 11pm and I’m back in the guesthouse in Islamabad after a quite successful day.  We managed to get a huge big banner for Save the Children – 12ft x 6ft – stuck up on the front wall of the 2 day UN Habitat conference on Learning from Disasters…  Great location, will be seen by lots of HobNobs over the next couple of days as the conference is on, so maybe somebody will throw us a few coins so we can get building critical shelters down in Lower Sindh.

This morning was lovely and clear in Islamabad, but there really is a chill in the air… I think this cold snap seems to have hit quite a few countries recently, the day before yesterday they were saying that there was snow in Korea or something!!!

Had a good, although very long, 4 hour Technical Working Group meeting today at IOM…  amazing how long you can argue about the simplest of construction techniques!  How many engineers and architects does it take to build a shelter??? 😀  Anyway, we are getting there, slow and steady wins the race, right?

Ooooooohhh  and a couple of interesting mentions of work today!  Funny how you don’t hear anything about work when you need it, but as soon as you have a job, lots of opportunities appear?  What is that about?  It’s like when you are single you can’t find any nice blokes, but as soon as you have a nice man tucked away at home – that’s you baby – the men come out of the woodwork!  Not that you need to worry about me in Islamabad, Euan…  I don’t think I’m really what the regular Pakistani man is going for…  but my friend Jackie who helped me get the banner up tonight in the Marriott Hotel seems to be seriously attracting the male attention!  It was fantastic this evening!  We didn’t have to do anything!  We arrived in with a banner with no hammer and no nails, and Jackie asked one of the Hotel Staff if we could have a hammer and a couple of nails, a few minutes later we had two men from maintenance on a step ladder putting up our banner for us!  Yay for good looking ladiies!

Well that’s it for this evening, have a good one guys, and I’ll catch up with you soon!

All the best,



Hi guys, nice of you to visit!  This is my refuge from the world.  This is where I will hide and rant!

Some of you will know who I am and where I’ve come from, but for those of you who don’t…  Who let you in??? 🙂

I’m Shona McKenna, and I’ve had a very interesting and privileged life, thus far!  Long may it continue!  I’m writing this first post from a toasty room in a lovely guesthouse in Islamabad, Pakistan.  I’m here working on my first assignment for Save the Children.

Lower Sindh, IDP Camp

Last year, 2011, record level monsoons hit the south of Pakistan, primarily in two Provinces – Sindh and Balochistan.  The resultant floods caused widespread destruction to peoples homes and property.  My purpose here is to come up with a proposal for shelter, otherwise known as basic housing, for some of the affected people in Southern Sindh.


I’m loving this job, it’s really challenging, and it’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember… and finally I have it!  I’m just worried that I might mess it up!  I’ll tell you all about Sindh, or at least what I’ve got to see, in later posts.  I’m also studying for a Post Grad Dip in Poverty Reduction: Policy and Practice online.  The modules I’m taking this year are: Cliimate Change and Development; Agricultural Trade and Policy and Water Resources Management.  So when I’m not panicking about my job, I’m having heart attacks about Climate Change!  Some times the panics and heart attacks intersect!

The good news, the news that doesn’t give me any anxiety, is that my brother and his wife Narkees had their second son the other day, a beautiful brother, Sebastian, for my gorgeous nephew Valentino.

So, all in all, everything is very positive…  I’ve got the job I always wanted, and life is ticking over very nicely, if possibly a bit faster than I would like!

Well, I think that will do for a start.  Looking forward to chatting with you guys.

All the best, Shona.