After a perfectly lovely weekend, the workweek began with rain. Driving to the training location, there were huge muddy puddles. I would have thought that a place prone to heavy rains would have a better drainage system.
Paul was the only participant for the first half hour, so we had a great discussion. He told me that during the dry season, they do not clear the drains of the dirt and plastic bags that wash into the drains and clog them.
This led to his statement that Africa’s problems are small and easily resolved. It’s just that, due to graft and corruption, the problems continue.
He mentioned that lots of funds come from the US and other international donors, but they do not get to the groups that they are supposed to help. And because the international donors are not unified so that they speak with one voice, they have minimal impact on ensuring that the funds get where they should get.
I asked him about what, if any, provisions there were to help disabled folks survive- and his answer was, none. That there is no affirmative action to assist marginalized groups, the disabled or women to get jobs. However, he mentioned working for one organization that had a terrific blind receptionist- and when that person retired, the owner insisted that another blind person be hired to fill the job.
We also discussed the dearth of doctors. According to Paul, the doctors teaching medical students do everything that they can to thwart them from getting their MBAs so that they can set up shop. This is done because they don’t want the competition. However, there is really a crying need for doctors.
Kenyan doctors also leave for other countries because there is no job progression in the larger hospitals and many hospitals lack the equipment and facilities to enable the doctors to use their skills.
Other participants dribbled in so that at one point we were up to 9, then one left, then 2 came- and one came in just after the class ended! She still took the pre-test, which we discussed so I could catch her up on the content. She vowed to find a hotel closer to the training site so that she could be early tomorrow.
I know that my descriptions from my weekend adventures indicated how much I enjoyed them. Let me give you another side of my experience that is less wonderful.
- There was no power, so once again, I had to climb the stairs in the dark.
- I couldn’t use the restroom because there was no water.
- My 1:30 pick up did not get there until after 2:30, because of huge traffic jams.
- I was hungry, needed a bathroom like nobody’s business, and I got tired just standing and waiting and waiting.
- Finally, James called to give me his eta- which was another 20 minutes.
- I started pacing, just for something better to do- and finally noticed a woman braiding the hair of a little
- 4-year-old girl in one of the 4 salons on the first floor.
- Someone saw me watching and invited me in. They were so kind, they let me just sit there (aahh) and watch.
- The stylist had the patience of a saint and her fingers were so deft and so quick that I could not see how she was making these tiny braids close to the little girl’s head. I would say that the braids were probably 1/8 “.
- When I thought James might be coming, I thanked them profusely and went again to stand- and wait and wait and wait.
- Yes, the traffic was absolutely terrible.
- Although tired, hungry and needing a bathroom, I told James that we needed to go to the supermarket so I could replenish the candy supply.
- After that, it took about 30 more minutes to reach my hotel- which was surrounded by men with rifles because some high level person was meeting at the hotel.
- This meant that I had to get out of the car and walk, carrying the heavy bag of candy, my very heavy laptop case and my purse.
- It was extraordinary, how many cars and military personnel were there- with red carpets laid out everywhere.
- On another day, a porter would have helped me with my packages. However, today they were all focused on being available to the statesman (I’ll probably read about who it was in tomorrow’s paper).
- By the time I got to my room, I was a hot exhausted wreck.
- I took a shower, washed underwear in the sink, and ate an apple and an orange, plus some crackers with peanut butter.
- I have a pinched nerve that acts up (and has been acting up for the past 4 days). So I lay down to read and rest my back at 5 p.m.
- When I heard fanfare downstairs, I raced to the window to see if I could watch what was happening, but it was outside of my range of vision. Clearly, it was pomp and circumstance and I’m assuming it was for the President!
- I was so exhausted, I set my alarm for 7:30 p.m. and went to sleep.
- When the alarm woke me, I went back to sleep.
- Now, here is the hysterical part. I was awakened by someone knocking on the door. It was housekeeping.
- When I asked what time it was, the man said it was a quarter to nine. [Note: I have overslept twice in my life when I was supposed to be training- and each time it was housekeeping that awakened me.]
- I went into hysteria mode because I thought he meant 9 in the morning- and I should have been awake and ready to go by 8 a.m. I flew to wash up, get dressed and get out the door (no make up, no jewelry) with my purse, heavy laptop and heavier bag of candy.
- There was no time for breakfast.
- When I got downstairs, I heard the peepers and realized that it was night!
- I felt foolish, relieved, and upset, all at the same time.
- To say that I am absolutely exhausted would be an understatement.
- Tomorrow, I plan to pack some fruit because I absolutely cannot continue to have my lunch at 4 or 5 p.m.
- I uploaded photos from the day and prepared to email them to the participants, but the system crashed and I had to upload the 10 photos one by one all over again. I’m embarrassed to say, but I was so tired and frustrated I cried.
- Then I wrote up my report on the module.
- I ended up having a dinner of soup at 10:30 p.m.
- And now I’m writing to you.
So, that is the flip side of this adventure. If I drank coffee or soda with caffeine, I suppose it might be easier on me in the short term. But I don’t and I won’t.
Bottom line, international travel and training facilitation for days on end, particularly with a bad cold, pinched nerve and the simple fact that I’m not as young and resilient as I used to be, can wear down even the hardiest of souls.
I’m going to end this letter, prepare for tomorrow, and get to bed. I’ve set my alarm and asked for a wake up call.
Tomorrow is another day. The participants are wonderful, the training is going well, James does his best to take care of me, and I have a warm meal in my tummy. I’m sure the sun will be shining. And I’ll see what I can learn from each experience.