The Gods are against me

Donor visit

Last week was my first donor visit – an official visit from an Embassy representative of the country who are funding my whole operation up here. They want to see how and where I am spending all their cash.

Lots of planning goes into a donor visit and no stone is left unturned, nothing is left to chance…Supervisors are put through their paces practising their briefings, uniforms are scrubbed clean, boots are polished, routes are planned and timed, campsites tidies…the works!

There is one thing you just cannot control though – and that’s the weather.

Now bearing in mind I have had weeks on end of glorious sunshine however as I went to bed the night before the big day with my bed practically floating (my bedroom window frame  leaks whenever there is a downpour) and I could hear the rain lashing my window, I said a silent prayer for just a little help and understanding – the pressure was on , this HAD to go well.

Needless to say when I woke in the morning the rain was still lashing down, my kitchen had flooded (again!) and my visitor’s flight was delayed! Not a good start.

The flight eventually arrived and we set off to the minefield. When it rains in Mozambique the dirt tracks we travel on turn into mud baths – as we ventured further and further from town the track got worse and worse and the driving got slower and slower.

The late flight teamed with the terrible road conditions meant I was precariously balancing driving fast enough to reach the minefield before demining finished for the day but avoiding sliding my vehicle slide off the road into the ditch….not a good look with both a donor and my Programme Manager in the car with me. I clunked into diff lock 4 wheel drive and slowly skated us through the oily mud slick road.

As we eventually crawled into the minefield I noticed a ‘welcome’ sign had been erected since my prep visit the day before. A nice touch…except they had spelt the donor’s name wrong!

With the rain still pouring we had a quick briefing then went for a miserable walk round the minefield – not of much interest to the poor donor by this point who had rain dripping from the peak of her hat, her papers were soggy and the ink had run and there weren’t even any deminers working (your safety visor mists up so we stop demining when it rains).

By now I was practically holding my breath; we want more funding from these guys next year…after the compulsory ‘field lunch with our deminers’ of scrawny chicken and sticky spaghetti we slithered back to town to drop our donor off promising to pick her up again later for a tasty pizza in the town’s best restaurant.

Jumping in the car to go and pick her up I turned the key – nothing! No lights, no ignition… Nada, I mean absolutely not a peep! Abandoning the vehicle and racing round to the hotel by foot we headed to the restaurant – it was closed! It’s never closed this place…apart from tonight it would seem!

What was going on? I thought bad luck came in three’s? It would appear I was getting my whole year’s worth in one day. Anyhow, I found another restaurant, we had a bite to eat and I thankfully dropped our guest back at the hotel eventually sinking into bed exhausted and grateful the day was over.

So stressful!

path through minefield

This track running down in between the tall sticks is used all day every day by the locals – scarily it cuts right through the middle of the minefield. Need sadly supercedes safety for the local population.

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