I wrote this some time ago but didn’t manage to put it online before handing over my CDMA dongle to my counterpart. I’m home – cold in Addis, Dreamliner ‘Lucy’ to Heathrow and now trying to adjust to the food, the shops, the attitudes….. I will not be blogging about all that. Thanks for reading the blog and perhaps I’ll be seeing you soon…..
When you get towards the end of a VSO placement they unleash their revenge – a mountain of forms to be filled in and clearances to be gained and umpteen pieces of paper to be stamped. It is a daunting procedure at a time when you are trying tidy up in a civilised fashion.
My programme manage, Yeshi, came down from Addis yesterday for my final interview and decided to run a sort of validation event involving flipcharts, post-its, marker pens and power points. The university staff and students involved were dazzled and not a bit bemused. I had to give a presentation about my time here but got let down by the chap who had promised me a loan of his data projector. Everyone had to look at my laptop screen instead. They took us out for a meal afterwards to make up for the fact that the meeting had been so boringly long, so the students were well fed for a change.
This morning began with a nightmare scenario – I have just two weeks left and apparently I need an exit visa in my passport. This involves the university writing a letter on headed notepaper to three ministries – Labour, Education and Immigration. I prepared the letters yesterday and left them with the Vice President’s secretary to print on headed notepaper ready for pick-up this morning.
We were late getting in as we missed the bus and had to walk through the fields. The letters were done all right but not signed and the Vice President wasn’t in. Neither was the President or the other Vice President. Nobody allowed to pp either because of the official stamp. Now I know that the Vice President has so much to do that my letters are bottom priority for him even though top priority for me. So I spent an hour going backwards and forwards looking for the Vice President (either would do) and Yeshi and driver hung round drinking coffee.
Eventually, he turned up, I retrieved the 9 letters (3 copies of each) from the office where the grumpy Medina had sent them for some reason, got them signed, remembered to get them stamped and returned triumphantly to the coffee-drinkers. But, oh no, I needed the university’s super stamp that can be given only by three girls in the Archive office, one to enter each letter’s recipient into a giant ledger, one to stamp and one to write the code number on the letter. All this just to get out of the country.
I also have to get a signature from about 12 different people around the university to the effect that I’m not stealing anything nor owe them money. I also have to do this when I get to Addis at the VSO office as well as getting official clearance from the police (cost 10 birr). What a palaver.
Other things are also coming to a more natural conclusion. I’ve completed my OU course with my seventh essay. Well, it doesn’t really matter if I pass or not – I’ve enjoyed doing it as it was relevant and stimulating during this year. I’ve now completed the first year of my new undergraduate degree! I’ve also just got one more read-through of the Hyperbole newsletter – or Kenyan promotion leaflet as it’s turned out to be. We’re going through an epidemic of power cuts and network failures so it’s not that easy to keep up with things.
A couple of nights ago I was out on the front veranda in the pitch black because of the power cuts. But actually there was quite a bit of light once your eyes got used to it. The moon was bright, the stars stunning and the lightning flickered in the distance. Fireflies also flared and died to the chorus of crickets and frogs.
Standing on the same spot the following day after lunch – clouds of butterflies and busy weaver birds this time, then an unusual sound – the burr of a plane engine. It was a small Cessna-type plane trying to land on the old airstrip outside our house. It came in, then pulled up as people flooded on to the ‘runway’ to watch. The police rushed forward with their whistles to clear the strip as the plane circled round and tried again – fast and low. The politician inside survived to make his official visit to the local area and this time none of the locals got in the way.