Closing Days

Closing a mission is always said to be difficult. I was lulled into a false sense of security though with great friendly staff and beautiful surroundings, and so when the last week of the mission turned a bit pear shaped it really was an interesting life experience for me.

There were three things that in hindsight I wish could have gone better. The first resolved itself with the arrival from El Genina of Chloe to help with the HR side. Basically I misjudged the time it would require to count out 45 million diners for the 115 staff to be paid in the last days, and so Chloe was a huge help counting notes till the late into the night.

The second was more of a bolt out of the blue with four of my staff arrested by the police for stealing. Upon further investigation of the material concerned it appears to full into three categories, items that I had indeed ‘donated’ including mainly wood and plastic rubbish, items that I clearly had not given permission, and then items I had never seen before that had been ‘donated’ by past expats? It was difficult to sort out and the shock of having people you just have to trust not living up to your expectations I found to be very hard.

The third was the handover plan for the mission to the local Ministry of Health simply not getting approval from the authorities and so the orderly transition of health activities from one provider to the next instead turned into a lock down of all material as best we could. The image I have of the culmination of this effort is my driver and I struggling with the roof rack of the cars in the pitch back at 9pm in the evening, with heavy rain tipping down, all so that we could get them parked inside another NGO compound safely. It was really sad to leave the clinic closed and locked, rather than remaining open for the local people as planned.

Somehow we got everything completed and flew out on the lumbering white Mil 8 helicopter in the warm sun of Saturday morning with the last 500kg of files, money, radios and last minute luggage. While it didn’t go completely to plan I should remember the successes… my calculations of everybody’s last salary payment appears to have been correct with not a single compliant, and all important logistics material made it back to El Genina for use on another mission in the future.

I even managed to climb the jebel one last time early in the morning on the second to last day. I will miss the amazing vista of Mornei, the kids calling out or joining me on the way, and the calm quiet of my little reading spot under the summit tree.


Matthew Jones said…
Hey amazing stories, Richard. Really interesting/inspiring. Wow.

Hey, I'd love to catch up sometime but don't have your contact details.

Your old friend,
Smoothfluid said…
Just sent a link to your blog by Razor Sharpe. It's going to take me some time to read and cross reference with maps! Looks like you are having the time of your life And making a difference. Nice1. Good luck with what's around the corner. Caspian

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