when your boss is MIA

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, everyone! Between getting back to Uganda, moving into a new place, and starting work again, things have just been a little nutty. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog at least every other week. Let’s see how long it lasts, shall we?

At work, I have two people working over me that I report to. In other words, I have two direct bosses not including the Director of GWED-G. My first boss broke his arm in the same motorcycle accident that scraped me up a bit in early November, and he only returned to work this Tuesday after getting his arm plaster removed on New Year’s. However, he’s still not up to driving a motorcycle, a fact that seriously restricts our movement in the field. Even if he could drive, he’s been gone for almost two months and is seriously behind on everything we’ve accomplished, dealt with, decided, and brainstormed within that period. My second boss, the one who WAS here for the past two months, didn’t take his vacation days over Christmas and is instead taking them now. Monday was his last day. So the only person left in the office who is really caught up on what is going on with the project and what needs to be done is…..me.

No pressure, though.

The start of the New Year has brought its usual flurry of activity and resolutions. Everyone has their own personal goals for the year, but the turning of the calendar is also a prime time for everyone to give feedback on things they’d like changed or done better from here on out. It’s a time when people are asking about the game plan for the next few months and wanting to lay out milestones. It’s time to lay strong groundwork for the focus and goals of the year. In other words, it’s a perfect time for both of my bosses to be a bit MIA.

No big deal.

I found myself feeling a bit glum last night, unready for the sudden influx of responsibilities, queries, and tasks. I was feeling overwhelmed and unhappy with the situation, but as usual, working here provides you unique opportunities for perspective. I’m pretty much living that anecdote of the man who approaches God and asks for a smaller cross to bear. When God allows him to pick from an entire warehouse of other people’s crosses, he picks the smallest one, and it ends up being the same one he started with. The point of the story is that you never know what heavy crosses others are bearing, and many people are living with much heavier burdens than you could imagine. Whenever I feel a bit overwhelmed by the mountain of tasks and the heavy responsibility before me, I think of other people involved in the project who have so much more to deal with than I do. Our field-based staff are the ones doing the real work on the ground, and if I think I have a tougher job than they do, I’m delusional. You try organizing large groups of war-affected youth into productive, cohesive units that adhere to a specific savings and loan methodology. I don’t envy them. One of our field staff members, a man I’ve become friends with over my time here, recently had his home burned down along with EVERYTHING in it by his neighbor as retaliation over a land dispute. In another land dispute, one of our savings groups had their cashbox stolen. The home it was being kept in was struggling with another family member over disputed land, and the other family members came and stole everything they had except the clothes on their back. All their hard work, all their savings, gone in one disastrous night.

Land dispute. Sounds fairly tame, doesn’t it? Here it can be violent, and it can be devastating.

When reporting gets me down or I’m overwhelmed by constructive feedback or my to-do list tops three feet long…whenever I’m tempted to feel upset or sorry for myself…these are the people I remember. The ones who suffer setbacks I can’t imagine surviving and yet find in themselves a seemingly bottomless well of toughness. They fight on and so will I. Because we’re in this together. All of us. We’re in this together.

 

If you’d like to contribute to the project, sponsor a group’s livelihood efforts, or give a contribution to help any of these people get back on their feet, please email me at emi.kihslinger@gmail.com.

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