A friend gave me a link to a blog post from an American who is in Ethiopia right now, working hard to get updates on the work they are doing and to provide direction on projects for their organization. She explains so well the extreme challenges (from an American perspective) of navigating the system in Ethiopia.
It's always a delicate balancing act whenever an invidual from one country and culture, tries to accomplish things within another country and culture. Our western culture is very time sensitive and very technology oriented. We rely on email and voice mail and contracts to accomplish business, and a deadline promised means a deadline delivered. Not necessarily so in other countries, where cultural norms and government "red-tape" throw deadlines out the window.
Even something as simple as exchanging money at a bank, takes way longer than you expect it to. I remember stopping at a bank to quickly exchange some money, only to be given a number and told to sit in a waiting room until my number was called. Then having to hand over my passport, go back and wait again for another 30 minutes or so, before having my number called again and my passport handed back with the cash. The entire transaction to exchange about $100 USD took about an hour and required my passport. And if you think that's frustrating, it took us nearly 3 hours to fill out forms and get the right "stamps and signatures" to file a claim for lost luggage after an 18 hour flight!
It's easy to get frustrated with what seems like a lack of progress on projects, and slow timelines and deadlines that keep getting moved back. And yet despite the delays, our Children's HopeChest team in Ethiopia presses on and wades into the bureacratic waters on a daily basis on behalf of the kids and the CarePoints they serve in Ethiopia. And little by little, day by day, year by year, incredible progress is made.
Here is the link to a blog post that gives an inside glimpse into the challenges of working within another country and culture. The writer has a great attitude and good sense of humor despite the challenges she is dealing with to get 200 pairs of donated shoes freed from customs custody so they can be delivered to children in need. Please click on the link below