Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hold On (/On Hold)

The tribulations of being a manager in the setting of an African refugee camp are many, but so far, one of the most constant is the level of interruption (more or less daily) we face from either life taking its course or other unavoidable occurrences.

Over the past eight days, we have celebrated a staff member’s wedding, visited another’s new baby, and attended the funeral of another staff member’s brother. The circle of life here is so visible and constant and holy. Yesterday one of our staff members helped dress the wounds of a burn victim on a volunteer basis at the clinic, and in the morning, the girl died. As a result, he has asked for the day off to counsel the family instead of manage our health services center. Last week there was a fuel crisis in the province and transportation into and out of the camp became impossible, and anything running on a generator (shops, clinics, offices) needs fuel. Without preventative healthcare, our refugee staff are ill and constantly taking days off. Roads here are pretty rough so bicycles (a necessity in a cap our size- 500 square miles) are constantly broken and limit our staff’s ability to come to work.

Living without any escapist pastimes here, it is actually refreshing to experience the robust joy, sorrow, excitement, frustration, and pain of these real life stories. But these occasions constantly put work on hold, and another day is escaping us now.

Today we are in Solwezi and much of the city is shut down in mourning of Zambia’s president’s (Mwanamwasa) death yesterday, and this will continue for 10 more days. I knew adapting to the pace of life here was going to be challenging, but being unable to schedule more than two tasks a day, can be frustrating.

Apologies for this short draft blog, but this week, our first really on our own, hasn’t left too much time for contemplation and eloquence. Next time I promise something fun and thoughtful and well written!