We’re taking a week off, as an organisation and a family, but… it started off on Monday with a few errands in Kampala.
Three meetings in government offices, surely we can knock these off in a couple of hours… a colleague of ours was even certain that 2 would be done and dusted in 45 minutes. Well… some 45 minutes that was!
Visit one: National Identity and Registration Authority (NIRA) in Kampala. On entering we were stopped (as usual) by the UPDF (Ugandan People’s Defence Force – [Army]). He checks the car over, sees Myron, and says ‘I have one for you (meaning he has a child he wants us to take). We side-step and dance around the topic, trying to laugh it off, but he seemed dead-serious, concluding with ‘you go in now, I’ll talk to you on the way out’. We took a different gate on the way out…
We had to stop by with our paperwork so staff could take their own photograph of Myron for his birth certificate. They had four machines and four staff: two machines were out of action and three of the staff members seemed to be lacking the skills to use this technology, acting more like ‘trainees’. We arrived at about 10.30am, and were ushered into the ‘processing tent’ to begin searching for a queue. An hour later we found the real end of the queue: the reason it took so long for us to find out because that is how long it took for them to process one person. When they left and the queue shuffled along, we knew where to stand. Six hours later we left with a tracking number and told to check on it in 3 to 4 weeks…
Visit two: Jody nipped out of the NIRA office leaving Myron, myself and a colleague waiting in ‘queue’ for an informal meeting with Makerere University. She wasn’t expecting to ‘boda’ in Kampala, so Jody took what looked like a safe option: a boda with a helmet for his customer. She donned an oversized helmet with an unadjustable strap (felt more like wearing a fruit bowl, didn’t actually undo the strap to take it off) and then weaved her way through traffic to get to Makerere University. She wanted to have an informal discussion to help clear some queries for our Nursery Teacher Training College (our students are being examined through Makerere University). Jody entered finding the person she was meeting gently berating a former student for having a forged university transcript. She then presented her list of about 10 questions and got answers to most of them. I guess you could say this meeting was more fruitful and efficient than mine.
Visit three: Ministry of Education head office for registration of our nursery teacher’s training college. The previous week we had sent down all our documentation with a colleague who was turned away because the director was the one who had to hand it in. I (Dan, our director… long story) went in person with the colleague and our paperwork. On opening our file, they tell us we have the wrong application form! They then proceed to try their level best to describe how important they are, commenting that she wanted us to have ‘teachers like her’. A few outlandish statements and crazy questions later, we walk out with the original documents but now a new (hopefully correct) application form to complete.
This is just a fraction of our red-tape melodramas. It’s days like these when we praise God for creating grapes, ahhhhh! 🙂