"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!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.
On April 13th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
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.