02 March 2009

Kiswahili Tutoring?

Work today was a solo mission.  Sue took a sick day to rest up and get up to 100%.  Since it was another important weekend for soccer, I got the full round up from Neto.  We had our usual Monday debriefing where I have to hear about yet another Man U win.  As we were speaking a young man passed on the road with his Lampard jersey on.  I pointed out to Neto that there was in fact another Chelsea fan in Malava.  He quickly retorted, "You sail in the same boat."  Then he made some allusion to the boat sinking at the hands of Man U.

Today, being the start of March, I spent the day going over the expenses from last month with Joy.  I checked receipts against the written records and my computer data base.  Joy then made all the same checks and we compared our findings.  The day was spent going over discrepancies and   then reviewing whatever mistakes one of us had made.  By the end of the day we had accounted for everything and I turned the money over to Joy.  I never really cared for accounting, but it has been a fun job so far.  Certainly it is my most time consuming project at the SJC.  I have found myself doing a more thorough job and making more elaborate databases because both take up more time.  I have become highly efficient at making everything take more time.  I even have come up with a pseudo-tea drinking system so as to extend tea time.  I would not chalk this all up to some great discovery of efficiency.  It is more like perfecting stall tactics.

We also had a visit from the family who caused anger in Sister Joy.  This time the mother came instead of the father.  Neto explained that this is their scheme.  Father comes to the clinic and acts like he knows nothing and then the mother will retrieve the meds.  This way we cannot say that we told the individual directly.  As was with last time, it took about twenty minutes to explain and convince the woman that she owed us money for the epilepsy medication.  She tried to say she paid before and said she knew nothing about what her husband did.  Joy was swift with her words and did not waste time telling her that she owed the center two hundred shillings and would not leave with medicine until paid.  The woman reluctantly pulled out a two hundred note and passed it to me.  She gave a look and a sigh as if it was a great burden just to lift the bill out of her pocket.  Joy reassured me that this was still part of the act.  The family was more than able to pay for the boy's medication.  She had made a visit and they were doing fine.  It boiled down to dishonesty and the hope that constant deception will lead to the purchase of medication at a cheaper price.  This is not at all unique.  I see it every day at the market.  If you do not give the exact amount, the person will try to give you less change that you expect and act as if they told you it was the real price.  Others will agree on a price, put the food in a bag and ask for more than what was agreed.  Walking away is the best tactic.  I can always find a better deal if someone is trying to rip me off.  It seems that the mark-up has decreased a bit over the time I have been here.  They recognize us and know that we are not just tourists making one stop and willing to pay a high Mzungu Tax.

We are supposed to meet with William's mother for some Kiswahili tutoring.  If all works out we will have a twice a week tutor!

In news, the president of Guinea has been killed.  I am going by the BBC report and there are not any details as of yet.  It looks as if things are rather peaceful after the assassination, but a military coup almost always leads to a bloody regime.  The report says that the leader of the para-military was killed early last night and the murder of the president was carried out by what are being called 'rogue military men.'  The military has made it clear that it is not a coup, but they also have said that they will be putting together a committee to lead the country.  Sadly, the president was democratically elected, but he clashed with the military leader.  The rift between the two is taken by some to be evidence that the president had a part in the assassination.  I assume you will have to do a bit of digging to learn more because this is breaking news, but I encourage anyone reading to take a few minutes that would usually be spent on facebook and look up the news story.