Outside of the French doors one can see a park shaded by coniferous trees; in the small patch of sunlight an occasional salamander shuffles past; a merciful breeze sometimes drifts through the open door. This – and of course some furniture and computers – is my Zahle office experience.

For now, our headquarters is tucked into the western hill of town across from the Lebanese Red Cross, commanding a lovely view of Zahle’s many carrot-colored roofs. Walking home I am frequently tempted to make a gesture at Walt Whitman and lend my own Yawp to the sound of car horns, and (in the evening) cheers and groans as the many Lebanese are drawn into the stress of the World Cup’s later rounds.

The office here in Zahle has a some fun faces. I share an office with Ghelda (our Director of Finances), share some work with Drakoulis (Director of Iraqi operations), and then there is of course Paul, our Regional Director. Claude (our liaison with the Fattouch foundation) and [whatshisface] round out the team to make six. It’s all very fun, and thanks to Drakoulis I am gaining an appreciation for well-made ice-coffee. Drakoulis is also the one of charity-poker fame – while in Kurdistan at an expat party, he played a three hour poker game until 3:45 AM and won, though most of his earnings went to charity. An illustrious character, no doubt about it.

We all have different roles, but to a great extent it boils down to the same thing: making sure that our partners get the support they need for their work, and making their results available to outside audiences. There is a lot of walking in and out of rooms, quick conversations, and emails flying around – the air is thick with them. A lot of our effort is going towards making sure the new website is functional when it goes live, but there is other work: grant-writing, contract approval, finances. And more crops up every day, it seems.

It’s definitely manageable, Internet-gods willing. I take comfort in the fact that it’s a great work environment, with the real environment just a few meters outside my door, and salamanders to follow with my eyes.

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