Saturday, December 02, 2006

Day 250

Two hundred forty-nine days ago was my first day in Sudan. I wrote about it on one of my first days here so I thought I would also write about day 250.

7:00am – The alarm goes off. I hit snooze

7:10am – Repeat the above.

7:30am – Repeat the above.

7:45am – Resign myself to the inevitable and crawl out from under two mosquito nets (one just wasn’t doing the job). Turn my VHF radio up to hear the goings on in the world that is Nyala, pull my hair back into a pony tail – the only hairstyle I now wear – look through my closet at the same six outfits I wear every week and pick something.

8:00am – Our administrator returns from taking someone to the airport, asks if I want some breakfast. I don’t and so we go to the office.

8:15am – There is no phone network meaning there is no way to do e-mails so try to get our RBGAN (satellite phone connection) working but to no avail.

8:25am – Give up in disgust and go make some coffee.

8:30am – Daily meeting with our Logistics Manager and Area Administrator to plan vehicle movements for the day.

9:00am – Make more coffee.

9:30am – Finish my ‘objectives’ for my ‘personal development plan’ that my boss is waiting for.

10:00am – Bring a cook into the office and tell her that she needs to stop making everyone’s life miserable and do her job or that I will fire her.

11:00am – Miss a watsan coordination meeting. Not really broken up about that. Work on updating the site security plan while listening to the cook rant and rave to anyone who will listen about the horrible woman she works for.

12:00pm – Update our site ‘threat matrix’ and write a visitor security update.

1:00pm – Go have lunch with all our staff. Our cook is noticeably absent being obviously still angry. Have a conversation with the staff about winter in the States and when our finance assistant is going to get married.

1:30pm – Back to my desk. Our administrator is cursing England’s performance in cricket. Try to get our printers working to no avail. Sift through a backlog of e-mails.

2:10pm – Talk to Khartoum by satellite phone about my recent meetings with donors.

2:15pm – Khartoum calls again and asks for the pricing of a copy machine. Says it’s an emergency so send logistics out to find out.

2:35pm – Find out that the price is $2,750 so call Khartoum to tell them.

3:00pm – Have an all-office staff meeting. Tell them not to use so much tape, turn off the fans and lights when they leave, submit their holiday plans for the Christmas holiday, and ask that the guards be instructed on how to turn on the generators.

4:00pm – Ask why there is a load of boxes sitting in the compound – they’re waiting to be shipped, I’m told. Go through a box of junk that’s been sitting in the warehouse for, literally, years. Instruct our guard to burn certain documents found in said box.

5:00pm – Go to security meeting and listen to all the horrible events of the past four days which include, but are not limited to: banditry, assaults, thefts of vehicles, burning of villages, shooting, murder, general intimidation, hijackings, and kidnappings.

6:00pm – Meet with OCHA to discuss Ed Daein and try to figure out who controls what areas.

6:35pm – Go back to the office, turn off all the lights and fans that have still been left on.

7:00pm – Go home, shower, make myself a tomato and basil salad and generally faff around for an hour and a half.

8:30pm – Go to a party at another INGO. Dance. Meet and greet. Mix and mingle. Refuse to learn anybody’s name. It’s lovely to have new people in town but refuse to learn anyone else’s name. I’ve got too many names and organizations stuck in my head already. I don’t have room for any more.

10:30pm – Curfew. We should be going home.

10:45pm – Start saying goodbye

11:00pm – Drive home trying to avoid checkpoints.

12:00am – Begin new British junk fiction about someone’s perfect life.

12:30am – Still not tired so take Tylenol PM. Make plans to redo our kitchen and make spaghetti sauce the next day.

1:00am – Check to see if the network is back on. It’s not. Go wander around the compound. There are times when I am struck by the beauty that is here. When we have no electricity and the generator doesn’t work and the compound is quiet and lit up by the moonlight. Maybe my sense of beauty has been dumbed down. Or maybe it is actually beautiful.

1:30am - Turn off the light and wait to fall asleep.

The interesting thing about Darfur is that no two days is ever alike. You can never get up in the morning and know what is going to happen that day. You never get to the end of a day and think, ‘right, that’s how all Monday’s are.’ It just never turns out like you expect it. Kind of like life, I suppose. I think someone captured it best in an article I read recently. They said, ‘The cup is never half full or half empty. It is always over brimming. Even if it is over brimming with tears.’

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