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"The · darkest · thing · about · Africa · has · always · been · our · ignorance · of · it"


If I'm not going home without a fight, then put up your dukes

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First of all, click here for new pics!
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During my two years in Africa, with minimal supervision and only a mildly annoying amount of paperwork, I've apparently forgotten that, as a branch of the US government, the Peace Corps must kill the forests of small nations with the paperwork hoops you have to jump through.
The application process was a long, ridiculous series of forms with numbers like 423-5C instead of names ("Doctor's Exam"), followed by follow-up forms with occasionally absurd questions.  "Why didn't you tell us you had a thyroid imbalance?  We're putting your medical clearance on hold."  "Um, I didn't tell you about my thyroid imbalance because I don't HAVE one."
Leaving the PC is a similar process.  You're given a book with sections for nearly every staff member in the office to sign.  It looks easy enough, but that's a trap designed to draw you in and make you think PC actually WANTS you to return to America.  The reality looks more like this:
- Try to pick up the check for 1/3 of my resettlement allowance from Juliana.  (The other 2/3 comes in the mail after you return to the US.)  Am told I'm not allowed to do that until I've settled up financial stuff with Peace Corps
- Pick up a form from Juliana that says how much money PC owes me and a form from Fatou that says how much money I owe Peace Corps.
- Go to the cashier to try to settle up, then get her signature on the appropriate line
- Cashier tells me that the form I got from Fatou has to first be taken to Juliana to be put into the system (the first form was a typed document, too--apparently just not typed in the right format)
- Go to Juliana to get the form put into the system
- Juliana passes the form to Yaya to put in the system
- Wait for Yaya to have a chance to put it in the system
- Yaya finishes the form, but by that time (10 am-ish), Patti, who has to sign off on the form, has stepped out to meet with or show around (not sure) the new British woman on staff
- Go back to the transit house to do other things, as I am now in a deadlock until Patti returns
- Return to the office around 2 pm, haunt Yaya, who tells me that Patti is still not back
- Pester Yaya several more times, finally find out around 3:45 that Patti is back
- By 4:00, Yaya is able to get the form signed by Patti
- Return to the cashier's office to turn in the forms and finally settle up
- Cashier's office is closed.  Oh yeah.  The cashier only works til 3.
- National holiday declared the next day.  Stake out the office anyway, trying to catch any PC staff member who decides to drop by work for an hour.  End up spending 7 hours on the couch by the front door, first waiting for Juliana (who I pressure into giving me the check, b/c my financial stuff is mostly done and who knows how many more holidays there will be before I leave) and then for the country director, with whom I'm supposed to meet at noon but who forgets and thinks it was 1 pm.  Am unable to leave said couch except for rushed trips to the bathroom 2 feet away.  Desperately hungry but can't go get food, less I miss someone.  Fellow volunteer finally takes pity on me and goes to buy me food.
- Run into Patti, too, and express worry about getting all the appropriate signatures and forms done with all the holiday declaring going on.  Patti is helpful in coming up with a back-up plan, but then tells me, "that's why I tell people they should really come in and start on the whole process as soon as you get to Kombo."  Silently seethe inside and don't mention that I could have finished everything I'm stressing about if she hadn't been out of the office for 6 hours the previous day.  DO mention that I arrived in Kombo Tuesday night and then spent nearly all of Wednesday and Thursday AT the office, running up and down the two flights of stairs.
Current Mood:
determined determined
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On April 13th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
you should be more lazy
you should have been like me and just not bothered with most of the signitures. i didn't get at least 3. maybe 4. plus i didn't do atleast 2 of the forms that give them the same exact list of projects that you did over your two years. then again i didn't get a letter of recomendation that i had to write myself. so i guess it's more or less even.
pete
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