This update is sponsored by Team Visker (aka Katie, Clayton, my BFF Henry, and little baby Jack). I’m a big fan of this family, and love the support I have received from them in a variety of ways (although Clayton is still just a little bit disappointed that I didn’t choose the internship opportunity in Greece). They are the kind of family that you can drop something off at their house and then just get invited to stay for dinner and maybe sit and watch TV. My faves.
FYI, that this update is a bit on the slow and unexciting side, but that is a real part of my experience here too, so thought I’d try to give as complete a picture as possible. Also, I can’t necessarily share everything. Sensitive information and all that, so I try to keep it to personal stories that would only be interesting to people who know me. :-D
Thursday. Sad day in many ways, as we lost our fearless leader Kim to the basically internet-less lands of rural Ghana. Kim, we only knew each other for a short week between me waking you up at the airport in Paris, and you leaving for Ghana, but I appreciated every moment. And learned a ridiculous amount of both actual information and observable information that you were modeling for me. Thank you.
After the morning, I spent my day researching grants and creating a grant proposal timeline. So, there was obviously a lot of exciting experiences for me to impart to you. Hey, being an intern is not all the exciting stuff like carrying boxes and running errands to get meeting biscuits. No, sometimes, you have to sit and do paperwork too.
Today, I also got my passport returned to me along with a non-immigrant residency permit, so that was pretty offish.
Friday. This morning, after meeting with the staff, Ruth and I went to visit a little boy (about 18months) named Jeremiah. Kim’s son is also called Jeremiah, and he sent football shorts and a jersey, so we had to deliver and snap photos. This boy is the son of one of the women who was a strong and faithful member of the WHO community. Tragically, she died—along with several members of her close family—from Ebola when Jeremiah was just newborn. Against considerable struggles, Jeremiah is living and healthy today. This photo doesn’t depict his rambunctious joy very well, because he was highly suspicious of the apadto trying to snap his photo.
Next, Ruth and I took transportation to the UN house in Makeni for a meeting with SLANGO (Sierra Leone Association of Non-Governmental Organizations).
Ruth was like, “Megan, I’m going to a meeting with SLANGO, do you want to come and observe.”
Me: “Yeah, sure. Where?”
Ruth: “At the UN house.”
Me: *super “nonchalant”; not at all daydreaming about my Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech* “Oh, the one near MJ?”
So, we took okadahs to the UN. We got identified at the gate, and allowed to enter. And we had to like officially sign in, and ON THE INSIDE OF MY HEART, I WAS SPINNING AROUND IN A “THE HILLS ARE ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUUUUUSIC” KIND OF WAY.
It was great. I am the intern, so I did not speak or participate in any way (except to say my name and that I was with WOH, because people were very confused about this white girl), but it was glorious nonetheless. The meeting was comprised of many nationals heading NGOs getting together to discuss and meet. Ruth was taking it as an important networking opportunity. I wrote down every single thing that happened in my notebook, but looked really official, so people didn’t realize that I was mostly noting what they were wearing.
The agenda began with the “reading of the agenda.”
There were security updates from a police chief. He noted that crime is decreasing, that they had just had an anti-corruption seminar the day before, and the idea that corruption is wide-spread is merely an opinion.
There was some mention of the actual name of a village, and this led to spirited, full-participation discussion among the people in the group. Ruth confidently made some great points. Aside from Ruth, there was only one other woman representing an NGO. Everyone else in the entire meeting from NGO leaders to UN facilitators to SLANGO representatives were all men. The other woman head seemed more of a quiet personality, so she was not quick to speak up when everyone was discussing things (she also may have just not cared to join into an argument about village names). However, I was so proud to be with Ruth. Ruth is diplomatic, but will not be silenced, and she is such a brilliant model for me and for all the women she leads at WOHSL.
Most of the meeting comprised a lot of minutia, and it was interesting and informative in itself—but also to see what caused or created the most response in everyone.
After the glories of the UN, I ate lunch, and worked at the office until 5. A day well spent.
Saturday. An unbelievably slow day in my life. There was nothing planned, except me sitting in the compound doing paperwork. Sidi had the day off (at last! Poor thing), so there were no long excursions in the car options (not that there would have been anyway). Really, I could have been completely content chilling. BUT, I COULDN’T BE. It is hard to chill, when Makeni awaits just beyond the gates. So, I left. I decided to go to the recently-opened “supermarket.” It is mainly imports of food, and much of these imports are highly expired, but if you want Minute Maid apple juice with Arabic labels—well, there is just no other place to go! Also, I had stopped in and investigated the place with Ruth before—on one of our Easter Monday bag fundraiser reconnaissance missions—I knew that there was apple sauce there. And I wanted it.
So this is what sent me off out of the gates of the compound on a bright Saturday afternoon. I decided to walk a ways to stretch my legs before procuring transportation. I went off in a different direction than I normally walk to the office, so the people I met along the way were all unfamiliar to me (I’ve made some friends walking along the way to the office).
At one point, I heard the typical screams of “Apadto! Apadto!” and looked over to see about eight 7-year-olds across a field. In literally a moment they were upon me: “Do you have money for me?” was the question from this very short gang (I instantly thought of Bugs Meany and the Tigers who were always out to thwart Encyclopedia Brown [my childhood hero]). I laughed and explained that “No, I did not have money. If I had money I would be taking transport, not walking hahahahah.” This was met with rolled eyes and quite a high level of intellectual disdain. One of the boys, evidently the leader, decided to say to me—in very precise English—“You do have money, but you do not wish to give any to me? Yes or no?” I was caught and cornered. It was not a gang of 7-year-olds attempting to get money of the dumb American as I had first supposed, but instead, a highly organized intellectual exercise. Essentially, the argument went that I did not have to give them money, but I simply must stop treating them like 7-year-olds who didn’t know better. I quickly said, “uhhh. Idee go now” and ran from my debating superiors, like the defeated party I was.
I refused to get to transport until I was out of their sight completely. Some part of me was still trying to keep up the sham that really I just didn’t have any money.
With this defeat behind me, my spirits and confidence were only slightly hampered. I pushed on.
When I, at last, arrived at Monoprix (it is some distance out of town and seems a strange spot for a market), it was a victorious moment.
I did indeed find apple sauce. It was 6 months expired, but really, I have doubts that apple sauce can ACTUALLY expire, so I totes bought it. What was perhaps most hilarious was the fact that this was Minions apple sauce.
Not even in Sierra Leone, West Africa can one escape the onward march of the Minions. The overlords whom we all must embrace or be consigned to the irrelevant past.
Actually, this was the reason why I felt the need to have this specific update sponsored by the Viskers. They are renowned Minion people. ;-D
When I was buying the apple sauce, the woman asked me if I was a doctor. I had to say no, but I wanted to say yes.
And, then, I get an okadah home and argued with the driver about the fare for five minutes and then all was well and I worked on paperwork.
P.S. Working on catching up on updates. Hoping to have a little time this weekend to transfer the scribbles from my notebook into sentence form.