08 November 2014

Kaitlin's work

I am MCC's Program Coordinator for Iraq.  This means that, unlike Nathan, I'm not doing direct work -- instead, my job entails either working with MCC staff or working with Iraqi partner organizations, who are in turn doing the direct work.

Most of my work is on the computer.  I primarily communicate with my MCC supervisors (who live in Jordan) via email and Skype.  I also communicate with MCC staff in the U.S./Canada, and I contribute reports, photos, finances, and other project-related information to MCC's databases.  That's all one half of my job -- the half oriented toward MCC.  The other half is oriented toward our local Iraqi partners.


Interlude: MCC's partners in Iraq

Lots of the partners we work with are churches and church institutions.  For example, there is a primary/secondary school and a seminary that are both run by the Chaldean Catholic Church.  We have two MCC Global Family projects---a kindergarten and an orphanage---each run by a different order of nuns.  There are also individual priests who we help to do different projects, like sponsoring a medical clinic for IDPs living in Ankawa, or helping implement a series of trauma training and recovery courses.

Two participants share their personal stories of recent displacement during the trauma training and recovery course implemented by the Chaldean Catholic Church in October 2014.  MCC provided some funds and logistical support for the course.

The rest of our partners are Iraqi non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  These are secular organizations that work at improving Iraq through peacebuilding, development, and relief projects.  For example, we have agricultural development projects with different partners in several areas across the country.  We also have projects that encourage dialogue between groups of people (specifically between religious and ethnic groups, of which there are many in Iraq).  In the past six months, all of these NGOs have switched gears to provide emergency relief to people who have been displaced by the current conflict in addition to continuing their ongoing work.

An MCC-funded agricultural project with REACH turned a section of the desert in Suleimaniya Province into an irrigated rice paddy that provides increased crop and profit yields for the twenty-five farmers who collectively manage it.


Much of my communication with these partners is also via email (or text), and there's more computer work, such as editing/writing reports and matching up Arabic/Kurdish receipts with English financial reports. The daily routine of my desk job is contrasted with the need to always be on stand-by for the unexpected. Business hours are a pretty loose concept (or at least I don't know them): I get work-related texts or Skype calls at 10 pm, and conversely I interrupt people's naps by calling them at 2 pm.  Important meetings are often set up less than 24 hours in advance, and people will stop by the house with anywhere from five to thirty minutes' notice.

All of this more or less describes a work situation in which I thrive; it's a combination of detail-oriented, specialized, mundane, time-sensitive, and varied work that I can tackle in my own order and at my own pace, with a mixture of human interaction and uninterrupted alone time.

This is a typical daily line-up: my to-do list, two cups of Turkish/Arabic/Kurdish coffee, and my email inbox.
The MCC Iraq office is the front room of our house, which means: (1) I can wear yoga pants to work, (2) When people do drop by I can quickly make tea and pull out cookies; (3) Sometimes I don't step outside for 48+ hours.  Oops.

The hardest part of the job for me is the responsibility to think proactively and envision what MCC could do in Iraq.  I'm a doer, not a dreamer: if you give me a ship I will keep it afloat and stay the course, no matter how big or unfamiliar or close to a war zone it is.  But imagining a different ship design or tacking a new course?  That's daunting.


  1. You are so organized you even line up your cups of coffee!

  2. Enjoyed seeing a slice of what I know is hugely important work you and Nathan are doing! Thank you.