First few days in Gabs

First few days in Gaborone can be summed up in one word – frustrating! I
came here with a ton of unanswered questions and things to sort out with my
employer (the Ministry of Health), trusting that everything would fall into
place once I arrived.  But deep down I
knew it was really too much to expect that anything would happen right away –
but one can have hopes! My first 3 days were spent going from office to
office/building to building of the Ministry of Health compound trying to find
someone who could help me. It was encouraging that the ladies in most offices
knew my name and seemed to know who I was, but they repeatedly said they were
not the right person to help me. The main lady I had dealt without throughout
my recruitment process is currently on leave, making things way more
complicated. When I finally found “the right person” she gave me a lot of
contradictory instructions. Luckily, I am jointly employed by UPenn who has a
friendly and helpful staff who supplied me with a to-do list for credentialing
and getting a work visa. I was able to get one certification successfully
ticked off my to do list this week – which is actually a crazy amazing accomplishment. I will continue my quest to get the
endless supply of documents, stamps, signatures, and tests done correctly on
Monday. Since no one has ever had to go through this process with the Ministry
of Health  (MOH) before, there is no
template for me to follow and no one who knows exactly how to guide me. There
will be a lot of trial and error and continued frustrations which are just part
of living and working in a developing country. Its one thing to say you
understand this, and another thing to keep yourself from wanting to scream when
you have door after door slammed in your face.

I am working hard on changing my
state of mind to accept these setbacks with patience. The good thing is that
pretty much everyone in Botswana is well aware of the complicated sluggish workings
of the MOH and I have a lot of positive support from my UPenn colleagues. For
the time being, I am being accommodated in a nice hotel provided by the MOH and
have been offered the home of a colleague to stay until April with Garrett once
he arrives.  Will hopefully start at the
hospital next week – which comes with its own set of challenges – but at least
these ones are familiar to me already! Till then I’m taking the advice of my
colleagues here to “put my feet up” and enjoy Gabs!

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