(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Busy December

I have been aching to get back to writing – at least writing about something other than work. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much time for the things that I now call pleasures (writing and reading) that during my youth I considered nuisances.
I notice that I have not posted anything since November. Likely my readership has dwindled to non-existence. Which is fine. I first and foremost do this for myself. It’s a record of certain aspects of my left that, had I not noted them here, would otherwise be forgotten. It’s certainly not a diary. There are some thoughts and opinions, particularly related to past countries where I’ve worked, that were best kept unposted. It’s a shame to lose some of those thoughts because they are very relevant. I have thought, however, of keeping a separate log for such reflections and stories but I have yet to carve out the time.
So back to recording what has happened since my last posting. Early December was fraught with preparations to go on holiday and wind up the loads of things that invariably come up towards the end of the calendar year. I knew in advance that the first couple of weeks of my leave I would spend some early morning hours following up on work things and making sure that all the loose ends were tied before year’s end. And so it went.
Our transition to Kenya culminated in the arrival of our belongings from Bujumbura. It was a long and arduous process that I won’t go into here. The bureaucracy necessary to accomplish what are relatively simple tasks is daunting. This continent is in drastic need to people who are experts at what most would consider mundane tasks. We need people that can think through processes and improve upon them. What happens now is that processes are a bit like houses. You build the basic structure. You add on when you spot something that is needed or a bit off. Then you add on again when something else comes up. You never go back and look at the overall structure to see if the overall design still makes sense. You just move forward adding on each time you think of something you need.
What is needed now is someone to have the balls and the wherewithal to go back to things and think about what exactly is needed and what isn’t. One would think that technological advances would sort out some of this process mapping. Unfortunately not. The other day in a meeting someone suggested we purchase a typewriter. A typewriter. It was suggested that such a thing would make us fill out carbon copy forms much more quickly as opposed to doing them by hand. I was told that eventually those forms are entered into a computer someplace.
In any case after considerable, and mostly unnecessary, waiting, the truck arrived with our stuff. A relatively orderly apartment was now in disarray and would remain that way, at least partially, until January. As February approaches, there are still some boxes that have yet to be dealt with but generally we can say that we have moved in. It’s tricky moving from a house to an apartment but with some organizing and disposing of things we’ve made it happen.
runners to your marks
Other events of interest included our girls' first extracurricular events at school. The first involved a morning of cross-country races that had each girl competing with her respective classmates. Turns out they had medals for the winners, even for the little ones. Kinaya ended up getting a third place medal in her class which was quite a feat given that she got a bit distracted along the way. As they ran, the theme from the old comedy show Benny Hill was played on the loud speaker which added to the ambiance. Hilarious.
Kiran, happy after her run
A couple weeks later they participated in a fashion show for kids. Ah yes, they are in a French school. I have to say, it turned out well and most of the kids had fun. Some had meltdowns as they faced loads of cameras, thumping music and dozens of parents elbowing each other to get better views and photos of the event.
catching the early morning UN plane
I also squeezed in a trip to Mogadishu. I won't go into detail here but it was a pretty intense 48 hours, I have to say. I've had armed protection before but this was pretty crazy. You can really see how beautiful the city was at one time. For now, however, it is struggling. Street after street with buildings in ruins, walls pitted by past firefights, divots in the ground from explosions, etc. 
a photo through bullet-proof glass
It's a very sobering place. Overall though it was a very good trip. Great to meet staff in the field and visit some of our activities (in this case health facilities in camps for internal displacement).
yes, I visited a beach - and it was beautiful
Finally, by the 10th of December we were boarding an airplane. No turning back. It was time for our much needed break in America.