Saturday, April 28, 2007

I don't care...

There is considerable disadvantage to being in management. Often it means that you aren't doing the hard (and rewarding) technical work of the sectors and interacting with beneficiaries. You just deal with the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy in Darfur is astounding. Take the normal inefficient bureacracy of a developing country. Throw in the antipathy of the GoS. Add several doses of insecurity. And finally, top with the entire bureaucracy of all of the entire UN and their subsidiary agencies. It's a nightmare. I have spent the last two weeks battling someone. Battling UNICEF to get our agreements with them signed. Battling UNICEF to get them to give us soap. Battling the Ministry of Health to get them to build the addition to the hospital they promised. Battling UNICEF to get them to give us food for starving kids. Battling WFP to get them to give some food to the communities so we have less starving kids. Battling our friendly GoS to get them to not shut our programme down because we don't have 4 pieces of paper signed, stamped, in triplicate because....why!?!?...they keep losing them.

And all along the way it is necessary to smile and cajole and laugh and joke ("Hah! That's so funny! You've lost our paperwork for the third time! Imagine that! You guys are such a hoot!") when mostly all you want to do is kick someone in the teeth. That little voice of rage in the back of my mind is getting louder. (Driving down the street yesterday I was passing a group of about 15 teenage boys who saw me coming and all started picking up rocks. My initial reaction was not for security it was, 'C'mon suckers! Throw them! You stone my car and I'm going to run you over! Try me!')

However, I think I've now passed through rage and straight into apathy. I was overwhelmed this morning by how little I actually care. I'm finding it hard to remember why I care.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I love my friends...

I haven't had a good laugh in days so when a friend of mine who is stuck out in the back of beyond managing a medical programme sent this to me today it cracked me up. (You might not find it funny but I laughed out loud) I appreciate that he's thinking sensibly about my future plans:

"so are you serious about coming back here with the UN? just in time for you to be a legitimate target for the waves of sui*ide bo$mbers that will flock to this place once the blue helmets arrive? don't you have enough entertaining anecdotes for the cocktail party circuit back in DC already? why don't you do the sensible thing and take a 90k a year development job in DC, marry some latin american diplomat, and make your living telling witty anecdotes with your hand wrapped around a martini glass???

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. that was one of our six cats walking across my keyboard on his way to destroy something valuable of mine -- it wasn't me suddenly falling asleep. but it probably is a signal for me to get back to work ...."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I'm famous (yes, again)

However, someday I'm going to be more than 'an aid worker'.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Some things you never get used to...

Over the year that I've been here I've become accustomed to hearing about all sorts of security incidences - hijackings, armed robberies, shooting, lootings - even rape - becomes something commonplace. It takes a lot to get a roomful of humanitarian aid workers to react to something. However, I just returned from our UN security meeting and, at one point there were audible gasps. Here are my notes from one point in the brief:

Group of armed men attacked 5 boys (age 10-15) who were looking for grass for donkeys. 1 boy escaped and reported to police at 18.00. When returned 3 boys been killed - cut into pieces, and left at site. 4th boy had only legs cut off and was evacuated to Mukjar but later died.

I was walking out with a friend and she said, 'and to think that you might miss it here.'

'I sometimes wonder if I will,' was all I could say.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

My sister is a genius...

Ok, so if you haven't worked in Sudan this will probably mean nothing to you and you shouldn't even bother with the link. However, if you have, this site will crack you up. My sister has put together some merchandise you'll want to run right out and buy.

My personal favourites are the 'my other car has already been hijacked' bumper sticker and the I 'heart' HAC thongs. You'll want to check it in upcoming days as there are a couple of other logos going onto the merchandise!

Happy shopping!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Impending nuptials...

The subject of my upcoming marriage is of endless fascination to my staff. Never mind that there is no date, there is no location, the proposal is non-existent, as is - possibly the clincher (!!) - the groom. No matter, this doesn’t discourage them. I cannot convince our staff that I am not getting married anytime in the near future. Without fail, at lunch everyday the subject comes up. They will not be dissuaded. They are simply convinced that one of these days I’ll show up at the office married. They talk about whether I will marry a Sudanese, a Brit, an American and the pros and cons of each of those choices. They talk about the ceremony, the food, the venue, the cost. The entire thing has been hashed through down to the smallest detail - how much livestock will be traded, what I will wear, what gifts I should buy for my non-existent in-laws, if I should be a first wife, a second, third, etc. (you're allowed 4 in Sudan). And then, the next day, it is brought up again and so on.

Every male of the species that darkens our doorstep has been scrutinized – Tearfund staff, other aid workers, shipping suppliers, the guy who drives the donkey cart and delivers our water. When I deflect all the names of potential suitors they throw at me, Mohammed, our logistics assistant, throws his hands up in the air and says, dramatically with a sigh, “Why you will not marry? We are praying to Allah for this everyday. You must marry!”

“Mohammed,” I say. “Why marry and make just one man miserable when I can stay single and have so much time to make all of your lives miserable?”