Dr. Kevin read my blog when he visited last week and told me I’m writing too much about work. Dr. Ahmed thinks I should be writing more about work: “You have to write about the meetings!”
Lately I read a great book about MSF called "Hope in Hell," by Dan Bortolotti (Linda: thanks for sending it to us). In it he quotes one nurse as saying: “If you hang out with the Dutch, you know you’re going to have endless meetings.”
In fact the whole Congo-B mission is run by MSF Holland, and here in Kindamba, big boss Leonie is Dutch, so that guarantees us a double dose of meetings.
The worst are the expat meetings on Friday nights, when after crawling to the finish line of another eighty-hour workweek, we have to prop open our bloodshot eyes and re-evaluate the three-month plan by the light of Leonie’s laptop screen. Then we’re allowed to eat dinner.
Come on Leonie, says Ahmed, we already meet about this stuff five times a day. Ahmed and I are getting ready to mutiny on the meetings issue. When nurse Maartje comes back from vacation there will be a secret counsel.
Then there are the general staff meetings on Saturday mornings that go on for hours, as we broil in the sun under our traditional thatch-roof Congolese gazebo. People who just finished night shifts are left with drool running down their faces.
And a few times a week we meet with the bureau de staff, who represent our beautiful hardworking Congolese employees, to learn about the various and deplorable ways that we’re violating workers’ rights. Did I mention that the Republic of Congo used to be a socialist state?
I’m not going to write much more on this topic. Come on Ahmed, who wants to read about meetings?
Also I should avoid stereotyping my colleagues. A little further on, Hope in Hell quotes an American logistician irritated by MSF’s internal squabbling: “ ‘The French are this, the Dutch are that, the Belgians are this.’ Who gives a shit?” Well put my friend.