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“Living above the shop”

May 28 • 3852 views • 7 Comments on “Living above the shop” Africa, East Africa, safari, Travel, Uganda, Volunteering

The past few weeks’ adventures have been great but hope I haven’t done all the best trips already?! Time to get on with some more work…

[Larking about in front of the house, taking photos for the compnay web site!]

People aren’t proactive and will defer as much as they can till the last minute. I feel like a bloody nag and I hate it, it’s not my normal style. Hard enough to liven myself up some days especially since our boss is in the UK and very busy with his day job and we have infrequent contact. I live and work in the same building (house) too of course.
Our first proper Directors’ meeting took a lot of organizing. I gently explained that a 1 line email saying ‘can you attend on so and so date’ wasn’t going to motivate people to attend. But we worked meeting dates around people who’d travelled the furthest (Julia is doing research on chimpanzee behaviour in Kibale Forest, where she lives in a mud hut, 10 hours drive away) and the meeting was quorate, ran to time and we had good input. We were all really pleased. I did as much planning for it as I could, researching each person who may attend, checking and rechecking for weeks beforehand what legal business had to be settled…But one day before the meeting and the legal forms still haven’t been prepared! Even though there is plenty of time (hours) every day, between chatting, reading the news and chatting some more.

We’d been talking about this meeting for NINE weeks (since I’d arrived). An all-day power cut was forecast and there was just time to run around and get stuff printed, causing unnecessary stress. I was fuming but I didn’t say anything. (The day will come!)

I’d been on a VSO training course the week before and honestly can’t see that a stroke of work was done while I was away. 

Moments like these make you wonder what you’re doing here: you give (intelligent, educated) people direction, like a weekly round-up of what we’ve achieved and what we need to do the next week, and things still don’t get done or they’re half done and not explored. To be fair, when things get busy the team do react but there’s very little to manage or administer at project level currently. I’d just like a bit more energy around the place to help motivate me with all the planning I need to do.

As for living and working in same location there are obvious pros and cons. Here it means I can arrive at work cool as a cucumber, not sweaty and covered in red dust! I can even take a shower in the middle of the day. When 5 o’clock (yes 5 o’clock!!) comes, I’m already home but it doesn’t mean I’ve left work behind…

[The lounge/diner. My bedroom’s to the right, spare (office) bedroom’s to the left].Personal project over the next few weeks is to create a more personal living space. Everyone walks in and out through the lounge / dining area. First couple of weeks, people were flicking through my books, leaving them here, there and everywhere – I can’t stand that! “alignment issues Anja!!” – so I retreated with my things into my bedroom, not wanting a confrontation. Now I know everyone better I’m going to reclaim my space!

Africans generally will pick up things and look at them, they don’t have this ‘do you mind if I take a look?’ approach us overly polite British have. With so many people living in very small homes, Africans just haven’t had the chance to adopt the possessive / protective tendencies us mzungus have. When I buy something new for the kitchen Eva and Simpson thank me. And I feel awful. Inside I’m thinking hands off it’s mine I’ve bought it for my kitchen! But they are so open and genuinely appreciative of every small thing I do or buy, it’s so humbling. We came back from Mt Elgon trip with an unopened tin of drinking chocolate. I knew Eva would like it and she was over the moon when I offered it to her. When she saw it was Cadbury’s – the real thing – she went crazy, grabbed hold of my hand and shook it! It’s hard to be angry or resentful towards anyone here for long. Eva had a long face just now so I cut her off a chunk of pumpkin to take home, she’s beaming from ear to ear now.

[PHOTOS: Eva collects avocadoes in the compound. The fruit were so heavy the branch CRACKED off the tree. We all went running outside. The thud of the fruit sounded like someone had fallen out of the tree. Eva collected fifty avocadoes that day.]


So much time out of the office must partly explain why I’m finding it hard to get motivated at the moment though. Have great chats with office staff Patrick and Enid but neither seem to have a lot of work on so I try and liven them up.  


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7 Responses to “Living above the shop”

  1. lizziema says:

    I noticed no comments on this blog episode and it may be that we were all speechless and did not know how to express oursleves given your circs. The way of life over there is so unimaginally different from the uk, but having had a few glasses of wine I will venture to say it might do us all good to come over and experience it to get life balance more on track. So little wher you are means SO MUCH…

  2. lizziema says:

    I didn't mean express our sleeves and I think I meant unimaginable…but not sure as it is bedtime. Admireng you from afar xxxxx

  3. lizziema says:

    if not admiring………………..

  4. lizziema says:

    Now you've got lots of comments. I'm going to send you some photos taken with "that camera" inc. the card Sarah gave me LOLoudxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. […] lucky that my accommodation had been organised for me when I first arrived with VSO in early 2009. ‘Living above the shop’ was not always easy. At weekends I had a big house to myself but during the week I lived in the […]

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