Greetings from Aden

Tomi started work a week ago as hospital manager in a 45 bed trauma hospital in Aden, Yemen: a building which has been modified for our use. She is enjoying settling into her accommodation and gets to grips with her new role.

My bed © Tomi Lamikanra

I walked into my room yesterday night and the smell of sweet perfume hit my nose. Turning on the lights I saw my bed well made with my bedspread patterned like a butterfly origami style. The marble floors were shining and the room had been rearranged. I smiled very broadly!

This is nothing like the previous room I occupied in South Sudan which was a tent, my bed was a mattress in a dome tent which provided me a good night’s sleep as it was assuring that no snakes or scorpions would crawl into bed with me while I slept. These days the dreams I have do not have any creatures tucking themselves in with me.

I started work a week ago as hospital manager in a 45 bed trauma hospital in Aden, Yemen. It is a nicely built facility and was originally designed to be a renal center. It had never been used and so we got to occupy it and modify it to our use. So far it is the best facility structure wise I have worked at with my organization. There are no tents or temporary buildings and everything is new and shining. The floors are made from marble tiles and the cleaners do a good job of cleaning them very well every morning. I have my own office with a nice desk and chairs for visitors; and we have air conditioning, so my nights and days are very cool.

My job so far has been very easy. Managing people is nice if the people are nice and so far everyone has gone out of their way to be very nice to me. I don’t know if this is because I am new here, but I am going to enjoy it as long as it lasts and hopefully it will. One thing people do is offer sweets if you go to their offices and so far I have had to eat so many homemade sweets. To refuse is to insult them and since it is sweet, I can’t complain. I think this is better than being cajoled to drink so many cups of tea or coffee.

Of course there have been a few rough bumps with the most common expression being ‘’the other hospital managers did it like this’’ or ‘the other hospital managers did not do it like this’’ according to what they want to do or don’t want to do! The boundaries are being tested but since we usually have very clear guidelines on what to do, this is not too much of a problem. You can tell that I am praying for wisdom a lot.

The food is nice, the team is also okay. As usual it is a mixed team of expatriates. Another Nigerian is coming in a few weeks so I’ll be able to speak ‘Nigerianese’!! :)

The French speakers outnumber us and once again I am left wondering why I never learned to speak French very well.

Security is okay, we live and work in the hospital which is okay for now, I have only spent one week here so don’t feel too cooped up yet. We have opportunities to go to the beach, visit a few malls and places cleared as safe places to be. The activity in the hospital has been uncharacteristically low- we see only victims of violence and the numbers seem to be dropping which is a good thing but it also means not much work for us.

I don’t have to wear the niqab or hijab. Females here are covered up entirely even their faces, our nurses do the same. The first time I was completely thrown off and confused by this but now I have learned to recognize who is who by their uniforms, sizes and their eyes! I cover my hair either with a cap/scarf and one has to wear clothes that cover the ankles and wrists so I have had to be creative with my old clothes and if you are wearing trousers your top has to be long enough to reach at least mid thigh level. I bought a few tops (not enough) so I have had to be creative. It is not hot yet so this works but I am dreading the hot season, but again thankfully there is air conditioning. :)

So far, I am having a ball. There are no snakes or creepy crawlies, the food is good, and we have a gym. The hospital is really nice; the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. The weather is nice and I have another opportunity to brush up my Arabic! I certainly can’t complain.

Tomi wrote this post in January 2014