Baseline: A Day in the Life

5:45 am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze for 15 minutes.

6:00 am: Wake up, put on sunscreen, bug spray, and clothes. Grab name tag, water, field bags (a small one with camera and notebook, bigger one with laptop, sunscreen, first aid kit, and hat), and food box with snacks.

6:15 am: In the truck, ready to go.

6:40 am: Stop for breakfast with the team. This is usually soup with noodles and meat. A bowl of vegetarian noodles (my order) costs 3,000 Riel ( $0.75 USD). We also get Vietnamese coffee, which is iced coffee with condensed milk. It tastes more like chocolate milk, but I’m not one to refuse caffeine. Total cost: 2,000 Riel ($0.50 USD).


7:00 am: Back on the road.

8:15 am (sometimes earlier, sometimes later depending on the day’s destination): Stop at house of village chief to announce our arrival and assign houses to each enumerator. This is also usually where we set up the anthropometry and hemoglobin analysis stations.

Assigning houses to the enumerators.

8:30 am: Walk to houses to begin survey. Each survey lasts about an hour, and each 24 hour recall lasts roughly 30 minutes (it varies depending on how far away the house is and how varied the woman’s diet was the day before). At this point I either follow an enumerator to observe, or hang out in the car getting work done on my laptop/reading from the Kindle app on my phone. As the first surveys go on, issues can arise that field supervisors must troubleshoot. This part of the day can be really exciting or really boring.

Chris, getting work done from the field.

9:45 am: The first mothers to finish their survey arrive at the village chief’s house with their child to be measured and pricked.

11:45 am: Pack up and leave first village.

12:00 pm: Lunch break. Depending on where we are, we can drive out of the village to a restaurant or we eat in the field. If we go to a restaurant, lunch is usually rice and meat. Also on the menu: a second coffee. Total cost: 7,000 Riel ($1.75 USD).

12:45 pm: Set out for the next village

1:45 pm: Arrive at village chief’s house. Set up anthropometry and hemoglobin analysis stations. Enumerators set off to survey or conduct the 24 hour recall.

Getting everything ready at the anthropometry station.

2:00 pm: The afternoon is the same as the morning – surveys, 24 hour recalls, measurements, finger pricks, work in the car, reading, maybe even a nap in the car (the heat makes everyone a little drowsy).

4:30-5:30 pm: Pack up and head home. We end at a different time every day, and our travel time back to the guesthouse varies.

6:00 pm: Downtime in our rooms. Usually a good time for a shower, uploading pictures, or a nap. If we get back on the early side, maybe some wine and card games.

7:15 pm: Head to dinner (there are maybe 6 restaurants to choose from in the provincial capital, where we’re staying). It usually costs 12,000 Riel ($3.00 USD).

8:30 pm: Home from dinner. Do some computer work – fill out reports, work on the blog.

10:00 pm: Bedtime. Sleep comes easily after a long day.

One response to “Baseline: A Day in the Life”

  1. Judy McLean

    Your blog is great Carly and I promise you will come back to vancouver craving fish noodle soup for breakfast! Judy

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