When planning a training exercise, they say you should always have Plans B and C ready to go. In the case of Yemen, for various reasons – the visa process, UNHAS flight times, finding equipment and trying to squeeze as many sessions into the training as possible, to name just a handful – we were on Plan X.
So doubtful that we would even make it to Aden in the very limited timeframe, there was a brief moment where it was almost postponed to 2019. However, the training team were determined to make it work with the unwavering support of the the protocol, admin and travel teams in Dubai and Yemen who followed up on our visas and patiently booked, cancelled and rebooked our various flights.
Because we didn’t have our visas, Seb and I weren't able to catch the UNHAS flight to Aden so instead we were sent to Djibouti for four days to ensure we had enough time to get them. Amazingly, when were turned up at the Yemen embassy and asked if the visas were ready, they were.
Four days is a long time in Djibouti – enough time to make friends in the Country Office, meet the CD and adopt a street dog. But finally, it was time to leave.
The short 40-minute flight took us over the Gulf of Aden, the waters a mesmerizing aquamarine and turquoise and deep blue. That Al Hudaydah, a port city on these same waters, and a vital lifeline for incoming humanitarian assistance is currently under attack with frequent civilian fatalities is a catastrophe. It is expected that advancing the local IT capacity of Yemenis during this training will enable them to better respond to humanitarian operations like Al Hudaydah in the future.
The training started yesterday with Training of Trainers (ToT) and an additional five participants had been magicked out of somewhere. One of the group is the first female IT staff member in Yemen – Sahar. She stormed through the end-of-day assessment yesterday, coming first.
Because it is the first ETC/ICT training delivered in Yemen, the participants – ETC staff from Sana'a and Aden, UN and INGO – are very enthusiastic and keen to learn. So much so, that we are continuing with intensive IT technical training today, a Friday, so no weekend to look forward to but lots of learning and knowledge exchange opportunities.
Plan X seems to be working well.