Saturday, May 8, 2010


I’ve been living in Goma for over six months, now. I will be leaving for good in another week or three. It’s unclear. At some point I will be asked to come to Kinshasa, but it’s not clear when, and then I will go to [unknown] to work/relax/apply for jobs [unknown].

When it arose that I needed to come to Lubumbashi for work in my second-to-last or third-to-last week in Congo, I was not thrilled, but I was resigned, and happy enough to be WORKING. I like being on a project. I don’t mind that I’m reading and writing on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t mind that I’ll be working all day tomorrow (Sunday). But I do mind – I DO mind – that now I am being asked to stay for another four days.

Why do they want me to stay? Because no one has had time yet for the meetings that I flew all the way down here to have with them.

It’s just four more days. I know. But. It’s four of my LAST days. I want to be in MY room, by the lake, seeing the sunset, soaking up my friends, working in my office, beside my (Goma) colleagues.

Would it be useful for me to stay in Lubumbashi? Yes, maybe, assuming (a possibly big assumption) that people make time to meet with me, work might go more smoothly if I stayed.

Could the work get done anyways? Yes. Could it get done well anyways? I’m pretty sure.

At what point can I say No? I’m a volunteer. I am not being given very much by this organization (other than the brief chance to work for it and amidst great colleagues, which I do appreciate). I want at least to be given a chance to pack up the life I’ve lived for half a year. Isn’t that fair to desire? And to request?

I know that the life of a grants person is waiting, waiting, waiting around for others, bothering them, pestering them, teasing the information we need out of them. I know that the life of a humanitarian worker is travel and change and adjusting fast to new directions. But is it also a scrapping of your personal desires? Is my life expected to be for the ease of the work of my colleagues, and their/our work expected to be my life? I WANT those four days. I WANT them next to the lake, not stuck in a fancy hotel in a dusty city that’s not my home.


And when The Work involves attempting to strengthen the quality of health care available to people in the region with the highest mortality rate in Congo, how do I reconcile that with my desire to skip out on meetings about it, and not feel terrible?

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