Its Sunday in the Philippines, and I am halfway to my final destination in Entebbe. The seven weeks holiday is finally coming to an end and will soon be going back to humanitarian work. Many,… More
Most of my adult life I live alone. Except when I am home, I crave the company of people familiar to me, my dad especially.
But when I am out of the country, more often than not, I am alone.
Living in Arua is not any different than any other places I live in. I get to enjoy all the perks of living solo. I get to cook food I like to eat, like when another Filipino brought me dried fish from home, I had a moment of happiness cooking it and eating with my hands.
When I wanted to be away from drama, I have a place of refuge, where no one can touch me. I can decide not even to answer my phone.
I can also choose the people I wanted to invite and dine with me, even to crash just because I know they are good people.
Although there are times, I feel lonely. In cold nights or when there’s no power, and a good chat buddy would be nice to have around. Phone calls don’t cut it. Those times, I needed someone close.
But the pro outweighs the cons of living alone. I wouldn’t trade it if I can avoid it. This is the life I chose to live, the compromise to the kind of work I do. And like, having my me time, I wouldn’t trade the work I do for anything especially the people I meet in the field. To be around them means I am part of the circle of life in Uganda and in anywhere I am then and in the future.
I get to enjoy working with them with my undivided attention; you wouldn’t trade those smiles for anything. And at the end of the day, I can go back home, kick my shoes, put my feet up and enjoy my evenings recalling what I had done and what I will do next or, what I will do for dinner.
Home away from home.
For most people in the settlement, this is what they call home.
When before they live freely, roaming the streets without fear.
Finding everything they need.
Where children can play. You hear laughter like no cares in the world.
Now, they live under protection.
Because some people decided a life for them.
Where fighting becomes normal everyday life.
Men become greedy with power.
That they forget that the world is not only for them but for all.
Out of fear.
They run.They fled. They cry.
That one day, their life will be back to the way it was.
In their own home.
In their own land.
I like to take the car when I travel to and from Kampala from my home in Arua, almost 500 kilometers away. When alone in the car with the driver I get to see everything and take photos all I want, like this highway in front of me.
The bridge in front of me is the sign I am almost home after a little over six hours in the road. Two more and I will finally be at the comfort of it.
Meantime, I enjoyed watching the clouds in front of me and marvel at the blue skies that welcome me back in the north of Uganda.
Seriously, how can you not love doing development work when you see your team braving the midday sun to reach people in their homes. Not going for lunch until all are seen and given the time to share their stories.
It has been cold in Arua in the past couple of weeks, well okay for over a month now and for someone coming from the tropics its welcome season. I had enough of the hot weather that a little bed weather is all I need to enjoy my weekends in my house.
With the heavy downpour looming I am anticipating a nice soup for dinner or a chilly night covered with a blanket and a nice grilled sandwich while watching marathon movie of John Wick.
Since I moved into the new house, one I can call my own until the end of my engagement here in Uganda, I started to enjoy my evenings.
For over a week now, I stopped going home late. One because I am done with my acting roles as head of the base and logistics support and two I lost the privilege of having a night driver at my disposal, so I have to take the daily driver to go home. I take offense in the beginning, but that was petty. I can live with it, I mean without a driver I could ask to buy me eggs and bring me to the supermarket after work. I have to be creative, so I don’t offend people and still enjoy the bliss of being chauffeured to get my groceries once in a while.
As a result, I get to enjoy my house even more. I sit in the balcony with a glass of wine or a cup of espresso and enjoy the blue sky until the sun sets in. Or prepare dinner that cost nothing and eat in front of the tv. And sleep whenever and however I like.
It’s my no stress strategy. Looking at the positive in a negative situation because I know that my issues are nothing compared to the many that I meet every day in the settlement.
I am finally alone in the guest house.
No more housemate for me until the new recruits start coming. So I’ll take advantage of my “me time” while trying to catch up with all my backlogs.
You see the being alone thing comes with a big responsibility that I didn’t ask for. But it sort of like dropped on my lap like a hot potato. The difference is I cannot throw the potato on another person lap because there’s no one else here.
You must be wondering what I am blabbering about. Well, for contexts I will tell you about my week.
For a long time, the mission is struggling to find solutions to make work easy for the program. First, the support team is supposed to do that but something must be blocking them from doing a smooth job despite all the necessary supports provided.
So, before the holidays, the boss finally accepted that the problem is not the lack of capacity, but the lack of integrity of the people themselves, those that were asked to provide support to all the projects in the base. I will not go into so much into detail because I may land my ass in jail for libel or worst I’ll be sent home for this blog.
Fast forward to last week, the person handling the case ended his mission. He had no one else to hand over some of his responsibility to but me – the last one standing in the base out of three. Well, actually I knew they will leave before me, I signed a 12-month contract and theirs was just a quarter of that.
The first one left two weeks prior and it was just as good as being alone but that’s for another letter.
With my colleague leaving I grew another head to put a hat on and started to do some base management. Which I never did before because as many know I am a field person — I like to be out in the sun and shuffling from location to location visiting people.
The field person is the first head, the original head until I arrived here because I was told immediately to do project management at the same time. So the second head grew almost overnight until I hand it over the person we selected last week. I hope she checks out well so I’ll be on my merry technical way.
So back to the original thread of the story.
With the third head, I was suddenly tasked to handle sensitive documents which were for the naive of me didn’t think much of it. But when the document was not well received and signed by the person I used to work with I was confused with the reaction of the higher being that be.
First, it was not my job to handle such a sensitive document when dealing with staffs. Two there was no anticipation on the part of the person responsible and of course if she hasn’t thought of it how will I know it, I am not in Human Resources for a reason. And the lady has the balls to confirm what I already know that I was tricked – because a crook, is a crook, is a crook, that’s all the explanation I needed to make me feel good.
The worst is not that. The person I though supports my debacle further drilled in my incompetence, and a third person did the same. Made me think … are they kidding me? Because it felt like I am the only one who doesn’t know what to do in a situation like that.
I cried a little. Self-pity crept in. And I am ready to throw in the towel because it was clear I cannot do someone else’s job.
Then I am angry. The woman which I thought has balls actually has none. The boss whose always siding with her may also have less of it and the third one is as clueless as me.
I decided to keep the third head realizing that after talking to a very dear friend – there is no one who can do this here and I am ready to take it on until the new person arrives or feel guilty if you know something worst happen. It will be a lot of work for me, but I am not new to hard work and dealing with complicated people so bring it on!
After a good night sleep, I am better.
Today is another day. For the whole morning now I am still trying to find my motivation to open my work computer and get something done, cutting down my backlogs and start fresh on Monday.
Until the next letter. Looking forward to your reply.