I suspect there will be MANY lessons to learn throughout my time here, lessons about the cultural differences in Nigeria and Africa, development lessons and lots of lessons about myself. So far this week in the office I am learning that I will have to be very patient if I am going to survive here. Patience has not always been one of my strong points so this will do me good and probably be a relief to those that know me. On day two in the office we had hoped that we would get the long awaited induction we had been promised (remember I had a week stuck in the house where the induction to the office was bandied about as if to give me hope). However on day three in the office, I’m now writing my blog because after many hours of being sat (patiently) at my desk this week bot all has happened. In our pre departure training we were advised that in the early stages a lot of sitting around can happen and you’re best to use this time to talk with your colleagues and try to get to know them, fine I think to myself only there’s no one here to talk to.
So to fill in the time I have made myself a calendar on my laptop showing the breakdown of my time here, I have filled out an incomings/outgoings spread sheet for my finances back home (probably should’ve done that before I left), I have started a list of local, national and international funders based on the information from the proposal we were working on on Monday and I have added even more questions to list I had about what the purpose of my role is here. Hmmmmm.
I even jokingly questioned yesterday if they actually need us to which the response was to laugh and then just return to what they were doing leaving us VSOs sat in the corner making up jobs to do. We did finally get a sort of staff meeting yesterday at the end of the day where we were gathered together and asked to introduce ourselves. I mentioned my work background, my football team (standard information) and my family. I neglected to mention my marital status and was then questioned about this. Following this every member of staff was introduced and also stated their marital status and whether they were looking or not. It began to feel a bit like a dating service and I wish I had stated that I am categorically NOT looking for a husband as it was mentioned a number of times that Nigerian men are wonderful, very generous and that I would be very happy if I settled here and would soon forget my home country. I should point out that at aged 29 in Nigeria I am firmly about to enter spinsterhood and the point of no return, so I suspect they feel they need to find me someone urgently before it’s too late.
Despite that it was nice to find out a bit more my colleagues and what they do, most of them appear to be Arsenal fans, there’s one Man United fan and a couple of Barca fans too just to mix it up. No Torquay Fans though, other than me obviously.
Other things I have learnt so far, ‘Keep away from already dead Chickens and Birds!’(on the back of a colleague’s t-shirt), good advice unless you find them in the chiller cabinet of the supermarket (ha!), the meat in the markets here still scares me, so much so I’m thinking I might just become vegetarian for the duration of this year.
Synchronised swimming proved to be a proper fascination on the office telly. I was trying very hard not to laugh at the exclamations of “wow, this is beautiful” from the males I hasten to add.
I will find moments of this very hard, a child came in from the street and asked to watch the telly yesterday. He was covered in dirt and very emaciated, a cartoon happened to be on and clearly this was the best ten minutes of his day. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the reality life here for some of the children but it tugged at my heartstrings to see how much happiness it brought him. In the meeting Pastor Vickie mentioned that in December they have a special food drive to make sure the local children are fed at Christmas time and that they collect toys and go out dressed as Father Christmas to give them out. Things like that will be very rewarding but I will no doubt be an embarrassment and shed a few tears at the sadness of it all too!