It’s the journey more than the destination

I just finished my night cup of chamomile tea to give me a good night’s sleep after a heat-soaked day while nursing a headache. I just said good night to someone in quarantine in India after we laughed at the outcome of my day!

After nine months, it’s finally here, the birthing of my work visa but with a minor hitch that I will have to rectify tomorrow if I am lucky.

Let me tell you what happened, but first, let us have some context.

As a foreign worker in Uganda, like in any other country, we need a visa to work. Mine expired just when the government decided on a complete lockdown that lasted for over three months and eased after but still pretty much restricted on so many levels, up to now.

In late April, my visa officially expired. Still, the renewal process and application were made by the HR department as early as February, anticipating the long, tedious process we knew from experience.

The immigration department did not completely shut down, and the visa is processed but not released until the lockdown was eased. Our useless lawyers were not very helpful in updating us on the application status — they took the quarantine so seriously that even a phone call seems to be not allowed.

Only when it’s almost time for holiday planning – which for me starts in September, I don’t know with you, and I began to become more insistent on getting updates on my visa status. Organizing holidays is never an easy task, and I haven’t taken any since I returned from the last holiday at the beginning of February. It’s all work work work for me, baby!

Out and about

I went to the immigration department with my colleague’s slash friend. After the driver collected me from #TheSummit, I went to collect Sirine in the other hill behind mine. I called the lawyer to let him know we are on the way, only for him to arrive one hour after us.

Of course there are a lot of people waiting in the visa section. The waiting area — which is under the tree, was full, and some were sitting on the pavement. The sun was high. It was noon! Sirine and I have different objectives of going to the immigration department — I was to get my visa, hers would be to withdraw her passport to allow her to travel to Lebanon.

The delay in our lawyer cost us a lot of sun damage. We were waiting for him for an hour, moving up and down the compound trying to figure out Sirine’s case, while at the same time swearing (yes, I sometimes do, tho others will not agree) because the one who has my document is late. My face was burning, and I am sweating and sticky even with my abaniko at hand and, yeah, hungry. Despite covering up my skin with SPF 50 (but did not retouch, maybe that’s why hmmmm 🤔), nothing worked, I felt flushed, and it made me tired.

When my name was called, an hour after it was submitted, I wasted no time to psych myself, got ready to pose and smile for my electronic visa. My aim was not to look like a guilty criminal because I was not paying attention as per my first visa, but I am afraid I failed to achieve a good shot for this extension either. I looked like a ghost 👻 this time, with too much light on my face.

Uganda Work Visa 2.0 (Uganda 2.0/2020)

Look at the fine print

The worst is not how I looked in it but that I was assigned a different gender, and I was like, 😳 really!

I only saw it after our car passed the intersection away from the immigration department to the promise of lunch, however late. We were so hungry that we wanted to leave immediately, and my mistake was that I only looked at the validity period, but not the other detail 🤦🏻‍♀️ – that’s normal, right?

After nine months of waiting, this is what I get — a gender reassignment! Funny, not funny!

What now?

Tomorrow I will go back to see if it can be rectified. It never happened to me before, but that mistake was from the officer that attended to me, no one else. She received a call while on duty, processed the biometrics and printing while on the phone giving instructions and giggling, so yes, I blame her 🤷‍♀️ , and the guy at the door didn’t look closely before dry sealing it — well, see how small the letters are, I don’t blame him.

Oh yeah, I am in Uganda; no one here admits a mistake even if it’s staring them in their face.

So let’s see if my gender re-assignment will be rectified, dismissed as a minor issue, or I will live one year pretending to be a female when my document says otherwise.

One thought on “My Gender Reassignment Uganda Version

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