A few days in the life of a finco... but don't worry, no budgets

An account by Julia Payson on a field visit to Teknaf, detailing long hours and multiple meeetings with people from departments covering translators to logistics.

well before i scooted off for vacation, i did make it back to teknaf for another field visit.  this time i brought with me Leonie (see below), our WatSan from the Dhaka Emergency DTC Project (more photos coming soon!!!), and a visitor from HQ, Ms Katya, who is our Expat Support Office (lots of HRM duties)We flew to Cox's via Chittagong and it was nearly a private jet by the end since we were the only folk going to Cox's.  The flight attendant let me know it wasn't the best time of year to visit, and perhaps I should delay my trip :)

here's a shot of me taking my human resources responsibilities seriously.  neck massage with smelly de-stress potion.  i take care of my people!!

next we had a 2 hour car ride (much shorter than when the flight is to chittagong).  katya is a bit of a photo freak so she took lots of pics out the window of the car.  i think it was the first time she'd seen real rice paddies.. although these look a little flooded.

if you don't see rice paddies when you look out the window you probably see this:

then finally we see the blessed sign!

(have i ever mentioned that everything here ends up water damaged somehow?  our logco came back from a field visit and the shoes he had left in the apartment had grown mold...)

so first thing... get some work done at the office.  meet with the

Project Coordinator, Administrators, and later on a meeting with all

the Expats to go over HRM/Finance things to update on

policies/procedures, and see if anything has come up (Question

Time!!!).  Then off to the house for an evening of chatting.  Fun.

Here's a pic of the office for reference.. (and leonie waving)


the rest of the trip I had meetings scheduled.  Looooots of meetings.

First one, was with the office staff: mostly your logisticians,

administrators, translators, guards, cleaners and drivers.  I managed

to schedule this for the hottest part of the morning when there is no

shade.  So um, I'm not going to post photos of me melting.

But, Purpose of the meetings to discuss:


MSF Principles and how they translate in our daily work (like

neutrality, impartiality and a core belief in the right to medical

assistance) - and how can we relate that to our reasons/actions here in


2/ Each of our role in helping patients (from loggies to doctors) - let's all brainstorm those ways!


How our work here is part of broader movement, and how serving the

patients and adhering to principles like neutrality and impartiality

has a worldwide impact on MSF being able to work the way we do.

4/ Annnnnnd always the question period about specific HRM/Admin/Finance policies and procedures :)


the first meeting with the office staff was good - the staff had a

great awareness of their organisation, and happily all knew how

important their place was.  I worry about non-medical staff sometimes

feeling like they aren't important, but the storekeeper knew that he

had to keep the drug store organised and the stock cards up to date so

that the doctor wouldn't run out of a medicine, and our beneficiary

could get treatment.  Huzzah!

The second meeting I did was with

the staff from the Feeding Centre (TFC) and the (Out-Patient) Clinic

outside Tal Camp.  Here's a shot of some of our staff at the TFC:


was a good meeting too - and I was so happy when I asked our Clinic

Cleaner how she saw her role in patient service.  I was given a very

good run down on hygiene practices and the impact of poor hygiene on

health!  The guards as well knew that they played a totally important

part in facilitating the medical triage that goes on at the front gate

(done by a medical staff).  I was thrilled to see that all the staff knew

how important they are in our programs here!

I took a break from the large workshop type meetings to chat with the

Clinic and IPD (Hospital) Supervisors.  Mostly to discuss scheduling

and things... and i'm totally listening in this picture... it's just

really hot.


guys do not suffer from 'expat fear' at all which is great, so they

totally let me know what was working, what wasn't, and how they thought

it should be fixed. i'm happy now because i think we've resolved the

main issue they brought up.  huzzah!

(expat fear: the affliction

of being somewhat hesitant around these strange foreigners who show up

and like to make changes and have the potential to run amok. can be

developed after working for INGO's where this has happened.  Often

leads to not speaking your mind when statement would contradict

presumed desires of an expat.  i don't blame people for developing

expat fear, but i wish the causes weren't there....)

Our Expat Midwife/Nurse Penny enjoys watching the Doctors grilling me :)  Beside her is our translator Sworna.


did a tour of the IPD which was great because I hadn't seen it since

all of the construction was completed.  Here is the Emergency Room:

and the pharmacy


penny here is showing off her fabulous birthing unit, a small separate

building beside the IPD.  and no, that is not a noose, but a birthing

rope that penny had put in.  dear penny has worked around the world,

and apprently the concept of a suspended rope like this is one women

have thought of nearly everywhere!

demonstrated... (tee hee)

oh, and here's penny showing me the real use for a bed in a birthing unit

and then a quick hi to everyone else working!


don't have an exterior picture of this hospital (We met and toured the

Nayapara one) but I'll include a shot of the Kutupalong IPD below so

you know what they basically look like from the outside:


is super handy to have a logisitician who is an architect by trade when

you are building new hospitals.  they will make it all very nice, while

coming in on budget (i know, the budget thing is boring to everyone

else, but i'm the finco...).  the roof is very cool - the extra venting at the top makes the ipd sooo much cooler than you'd expect in this climate.

the last two big staff meetings

were scheduled with all of the staff of the 2 IPDs.  the first one was great,

and as the staff were all less than 6 months working as well as being

seconded from the Ministry of Health, i wasn't expecting everyone to

have too much to say about MSF... but i was wrong!  very good

discussion - and i must say they took the most advantage of the Q&A

re: finance/hrm/admin.  How does everything work and why that way!?!?

by the end, i was exhausted... but still satisfied with it all.

a couple of evenings we took advantage of the cooling temperatures and

lack of monsoony rain to wander through teknaf town.  it would be a

nice relaxing adventures if delivery trucks didn't take up 99% of the

road and nearly crush you repeatedly.  but here we are wandering:

and here's the local spice stall/hardware store (cumin and nails, together at last!):

it is truely a coastal city... lots of boats:

and a great sunset


were scheduled for the other team the next morning on our way out of

town.. but fate had another plan as both katya and i developed a crazy

fever and bad tummies and instead spent the rest of the day and evening

lying on the couch drinking oral rehydration.  fun.  oh yes, and i was

trying to upload files for HQ at the same time while my server kept

dying.  it wasn't the most pleasant afternoon i've ever had, but when

the team came home they brought dinner into the living room and sat

with us and watched dvds and put cool cloths on our foreheads.  oh yes,

and penny made us fresh orange juice, so i must say we were very well

cared for.

katya and i were both a bit wary of the upcoming 6

hour car ride to chittagong in the morning to catch our flight, but we

made it through the night alright.  in the morning we stopped by tal

again, and checked in on the TFC.  the kids at tal camp are so used to

cameras, and even more hams than expats!  here's katya and shannon, the

project coordinator, and some of the kids who live in tal.


i won't bore you with the details of our drive but i will say that the

wrong time to arrive in chittagong city is 3PM when it is Ramadan.  the

1 hour trip across town to the airport took 2 1/2.  we arrived for a

5:35 flight, at, um, 5:30.  thankfully we got on the plane just in time

and headed back to dhaka.  we were starved by the time the food was

served, even more than our fasting co-passengers since neither of us

had successfully eaten since lunch the day before.  so we had to take a

picture of the meal.  normally you don't get one, but i think it's

special ramadan extra on the flight.  it was sooooo good.  don't worry... we took a photo.

and so ends another trip to our fair teknaf.