On organising a meeting

At my work back in the UK we used an online calendar to organise meetings. I’d select the participants, write something succinct, name the time and venue and within nanoseconds the invite would be issued. If I was feeling particularly generous or if I knew I would be calling in favours I may mention buns or chocolate, a small act of candy-shaped bribery which I like to think of as a legitimate management tool and which most people I was working with saw straight through (which didn’t stop them taking a sweet).

Here it’s slightly more laborious. Firstly the invite is in letter form and requires phrases like ‘most esteemed colleagues’ and ‘punctuality saves time and thanks for your usual cooperation.’ Last week I suggested to my boss that we organise a meeting. He agreed and we drafted an invite to a range of NGOs. He grinned at me as he said ‘you need to make sure they all receive the invitations’ and my eyes narrowed as I realised the online calendar option might not work this time. Instead in between supervision visits to a number of facilities regarding a vaccination campaign, I and our lovely non-English speaking driver took the landrover over bumpy red roads to a range of places which have no addresses other than – ‘on the road near X hotel’ or ‘opposite Y compound’. I called a few people, and got some vague instructions as we bumped our way through town. Of course it decided to pour with torrential rain as I hopped between puddles on a large leafy compound of an Italian organisation, trying to find the director’s office and leaving a pool of water on the floor when I finally found it. I made friends with a few security guards at another organisation with my fledgling Juba Arabic and blagged my way into their director’s office.

A few hours later I was slightly smug as I returned to my boss and his eyebrows raised and he laughed when I told him of my success and feigned exhaustion.

The day of the meeting came. The agenda was ready. The location (under the mango tree) was ready. There were no refreshments due to the fact there is no money (usually at meetings there is a bottle of water and a can of soda for everyone), and we sat and waited. At 2.15pm it was just myself and my boss and one invitee. I started to sweat, and not just from the heat. One by one landrovers started to appear and at 2.30pm, 3 others appeared. At 2.45pm, a few more. At 2.55pm we finally got started, under the mango tree, with a prayer, as it the custom. Discussion was good and timely and there are some small chinks of encouraging light which came in the action points.

In other news it is payday (only a month late) and so there are lines of people waiting outside our office for their pay… my colleagues are very happy. TGIF.

6 thoughts on “On organising a meeting

  1. Hi Sarah, lovely to read your blog… Sounds like you are getting on well, African timing is unique! It’s good to hear all about your adventures…it’s sounds like you are finding your feet with regard your job! Keep the reports coming…. all well in Lisburn, enjoying the grandchildren!!

    Take care, Uncle Tom, Auntie Ruth xx

    • Thanks so much Uncle Tom and Auntie Ruth! Delighted to hear of Erin’s safe arrival! Love to the Kirk clan. xo

  2. Sarah, What a wonderful experience you are having. Love your blog and your writings. Thank you for taking the time to blog when you have so many other new ways of living to grapple with. You will be changed in many ways through this experience and you will be an agent of change for the people who you are serving. Keep journeying on and may your blog also help to change those of us who are privelaged to read it. Love and many blessings Alison Mark

    • Thank you so much Doug and Alison. I really appreciate the encouragement. I love hearing your news via Mum and Dad. Thinking of you today as we sit watching pouring rain and enjoying cool temperatures. Sarah x

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