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While the cat’s away….

Jul 6 • 2250 views • 2 Comments on While the cat’s away…. Adventure, Africa, anti-poaching, Conservation, East Africa, safari, Travel, Uganda, Uganda Conservation Foundation, Volunteering

… the rats play ….


Apparently they don’t have mice in Uganda. Their mice look like English rats, only a lot smaller … (so isn’t that a mouse then?!)

God I’m glad this work week’s over …. knee is not getting better so I’m really feeling out of shape now; RSI has been killing me (but I do have some more exercises to try); I’m torn between getting my projects done and spending time ‘leading and motivating’ the team (one of who is possibly leaving anyway…)

Have been struggling for weeks to finish a report to a donor: a project I’m not totally familiar with, colleagues who don’t give me the full picture and a template I’m having difficulty using. I feel like I’m the bottleneck for everything: we can’t submit next grant applications till reports are done and I can’t ‘share my skills’ with the team until I understand what I’M supposed to be doing! I’m still working on the 6 month workplan VSO have asked me to put together. Still, here is not the place to get stressed: you try and buck the system and it’ll fight back even harder.

Did I say something about wanting a challenge? Next time shoot me!

Success here is measured in much smaller ways, whether we like it or not. Sometimes we’re just lucky to have power and/or phone and internet; to get a cheque signed (by an elusive and busy director). Other days we’re lucky if everyone’s at work; people get sick more often (especially with malaria; in many cases it can be HIV-related) and burials of (extended) family members mean days off from work are very common indeed. This may be one explanation for Ugandans’ less than brilliant planning skills! It is quite normal to have just a day’s notice for an important meeting. A friend was booked on a three day training course the night before it started.

I just hope next Monday is better than this week’s. This is a note I wrote to one of our volunteer colleagues in the UK:

“I came home from the field trip to find a quarter of my treasured olive oil had gone (no-one’s been cooking) and some of the honey gone (you know how expensive that is here). Now I’m thinking about it, we seem to get thru sugar and instant coffee at a rate of knots too. (

Another job advert torn up in the office bin didn’t help my mood either when I got back)….

UCF have asked me to pay for all the office tea, coffee sugar, etc, cleaning products, lightbulbs, candles etc. They pay Rose’s wages and the utility bills so it’s only fair – just wish they’d mentioned it before now as I’d have kept a closer eye on what people are using…  I’m a bit concerned about buying detergents, tea/coffee etc. It’s not a lot of money but Roses always ‘helps herself’ to these items and I cannot help but take it personally if I am the one paying for it! It is of course no better if she’s stealing from UCF but I don’t take it so personally. I stopped buying liquid detergent as I noticed she had taken half the bottle home as soon as I bought it.

I’m happy to help Rose with unlimited matoke (green bananas) and sweet bananas (!), brought her back a pineapple from our trip etc but ‘helping herself’ really puts my back up. I offered her a headache tablet last week and when I asked where the packet was, she produced it from her handbag. I said ‘I’d prefer if you ask before you take things’, she said ‘I would ask you first’. Well evidence is to the contrary isn’t it?

Am I just supposed to turn a blind eye to this? I don’t want to humiliate her, it must be v difficult to make ends meet and part of me admires her resourcefulness but not to my cost.
Rereading this, it does all sound rather petty but I do need help getting my head around this!” 



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2 Responses to While the cat’s away….

  1. lizziema says:

    Oh Charlie, you don't need all this. Would it be out of order to put a lock on the supply cupboard? Have you got a lock on your suitcase so that you can keep some things out of reach? Would you like me to send you a suitcase padlock?About your hand, has the possibility of a cortisone injection come up? You would have to take care but it should give almost instant relief. thinking of you lots darling xxxx oh and rats!!!! lovely way to spread germs. don't forget items for your parcel

  2. sjwaller says:

    Hi Charlie- Not such a good week then! Sounds a bit like mine but luckily have no rats (just peg's partner) and he is too big to catch in a trap! Hoping yours and mine is better this week but I wont keep my fingers crossed. Take care. Lots of love

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