Our HR department ‘bush-style’

The last few weeks we have been recruiting and training new demining teams. We try to recruit locally wherever possible so this recruitment drive was very much based out in the bush!

Once we have our teams it’s time for some HR admin…this is how we do contract signing in the bush…

Man sits down, ask his name, he says a weird and wonderful name like Viola Mesa (roughly translated from local language to Portuguese to English this is Violin Table). Ask how to spell it in local language, he doesn’t know so write phonetically.

Ask if he is single or married, he says married. Legally married? Does he have a ‘wife’ or a ‘woman’? (There is a difference! Over here men sometimes ‘take a wife’ so they might never legally marry the women they spend their lives with but they will consider themselves married and refer to their partner as their wife. We need to know which one it is for insurance and the like).

It’s particularly confusing as the word for woman is mulher, there is no word for wife so they use mulher!

Complete all his details like his address…normally along the lines of the white house next to the big tree in so and so village.

Ask him if he can read. If yes he reads his contract, if no we read it to him.

Ask him if  he can he write, if yes he writes his name to sign his contract. If no we smear his finger with ink and press his fingerprint onto the bottom of the contract.

All of this is done sitting at our good old plastic table and chairs, in the shade of a huge mango tree, weighting down contracts from blowing away in the breeze with rocks plucked off the ground next to us, with me dashing off every few minutes to print another contract from my dusty old printer stashed in the back of my landrover and being powered off the car battery!

It’s HR but for sure not as we know it in England!

                                Contract signing ‘bush-style’


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