This post is a bit more personal, but it’s so typical of me and part of my life that I had to write it down. Those of you who know me will realise instantly what I am writing about: For the first time since I came here to Zambia I left the stove on.
I forgot to turn it off after heating some tea for the students. It was on the lowest level, but it was mevertheless a serious blow to my self confidence. Previous exhibits of my forgetfulness were: I forgot to attend a meeting at the right time, forgot to get the milk and bread for breakfast out of the freezer, forgot to bring this and that to the dorm.
This kind of forgetfulness didn’t matter much in my previous job. As I would jump from task to task I didn’t have to keep track of much apart from time and remembering to speak to the right people. All the requirements were pretty fluid (to say the least), but it was usually a single straightforward problem to solve.
Here I am now working in a school dormitory and there are a lot of annoyingly simple things to do at exactly the right time and in exactly the right fashion. It’s something I don’t cope with well. The first thing I did when I came here was to write a clear time schedule for the everyday volunteer work and stick it to the bedroom door. I add little notes to this when I learn something new. It doesn’t help much. When I was a student myself I would drive my parents nuts by forgetting to bring home any bag that they would give me in addition to my primary school bag, which I also lost on at least one or two occasions. Things haven’t changed much since then. Whatever I do takes my full attention and time keeping and other tasks disappear not to return even after finishing the task at hand, unless there’s something in my environment to remind me.
So I am by all measures a bad candidate for working in the environment that I am in now. It is full of unwritten rules and things to remember. But I like to think that with my being here I help to make this place more humane and friendly, even if it’s just by making mistakes and getting laughed at (which thankfully doesn’t happen too often). Even if it is stressfull sometimes I get more than enough free time to read and draw, which makes up for anything else.