Wednesday, 28 September 2011

28th September 2011

Tomorrow is my last day at work. I've made a start at packing up the office (I have to pack everything into boxes as I don't quite know where I will be located when I return) but it seems like I have a long way to go.

I have been saying various goodbyes over the past few weeks and this has kind of brought things to the front of my mind a bit. I have also spent a few days in the ultrasound department at St Peter's trying to improve (actually, forget improve - develop) my scanning skills. I have had a great teacher there (Brenda) and she has been very patient with my inability to grasp the skill of locating the fetal position. However, I think I have finally got it and have even managed to do some reasonable scans with my new portable scanner. Yes, I managed to fundraise enough money to buy one portable scanner and so am able to start the triage project when I get there. The obstetric risk scoring system contains 3 factors that I can only obtain through scanning.

Part of me is excited about going to Gimbie and another part of me wonders exactly why I am going there. Right now, it feels a little bit like the anticipation that you have prior to a holiday (yes, I know this is no holiday). On the one hand you're really looking forward to it, but then you are not really quite sure what it will all be like. I'm sure that it'll all be fine in the end. I guess that my biggest fear remains that we will not be able to achieve very much and so will get frustrated with the systems that prevent us from doing what probably needs to be done.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

18th September 2011

Last Sunday was Ethiopian New Year and it is now 2004 over there. There are also two times (8 hours apart) that people work on so I think it is possible to never be late for anything!

With just 18 days to go until 'E' day, I'd like to be able to report that we are ready and prepared for the year ahead. Alas, that is not the case and we still haven't got our work permits, business visas or car documents sorted. Its not for the want of trying though. Over the past 4 or 5 months we have become regular customers of a local notary (to notarise many documents), the Foreign Commonwealth Office (to legalise the documents) the Ethiopian Embassy in London (to stamp said documents) and DHL, who finally get to send all these documents to a PO box in Addis. The real problem is that no-one seems to know exactly what is required for a work permit or for importing a car. So we provide everything that is asked for, only to find that there are further things needed; each time this involves various trips to get them authorised by everyone. Our work permit has required; a letter form the GP saying we are healthy, a letter from the charity offering us a job, a job description and terms of reference, photocopies of our passports, copies of qualifications, and copies of a bank statement to show you have enough money to support yourself. All this has to be shown to be genuine documentation and hence notarised, legalised and stamped.

We are just about to pack the car, which will hopefully arrive after 30 days on a ship, into Djibouti. It's not clear how hard it will be to get the car through customs but so far, things do not look good - again, no-one really knows what you have to provide. The other problem is that it's not clear what you can take into the country and what you have to pay tax on. Apparently, personal items are fine, but then a friend got stopped and charged £40 to bring her laptop through. I think these 'rules' are all a bit random and rely on visitors carrying enough cash with them to get through.