Friday, September 27, 2013

i am NOT sorry

so this week has been mostly around the official launch of our project. to officially launch a project you need to have a workshop where you invite all the important people, especially some ministers to make comments and get paid perdiems, then you give people free lunch and a chance for them to complain at length about the project. and this is what we did. and we even gave out free t-shirts. people go nuts over t-shirts. there was actually a small mob scene and i told my assistant several times to order xxxl. sigh. though of course, this being a workshop, the same photographer guy shows up and takes pictures 2 inches from your face, with a flash and then goes and prints them and then displays them and sells them for outrageous prices. people love the photos too. the thing to do is buy the photo of someone and then give it to them. though people always buy up the photos of me (cuz of my awesome congolese threads, for sure) and then when i go their office it's like, oh that's me! this photographer never really catches the best moment tho, you always have your eyes half open, or you're picking your ear with your pen. so you get these low quality prints that look something like this:
thrilled to be here!

anyway, at one point i see the photographer quickly packing up and running off and even though i have my fancy press team with professional photos, everyone loves bad photoguy. so i ask my project manager, mina, this wonderfully organized and productive korean woman we hired to run our project in kinshasa. and she is all outraged, he was taking photos and selling them! really expensive!
yes, mina, i know, but this is what they do, it's a congolese thing, people love the pictures.
so i manage to call the photographer back before he is hastily, angrily deleting all the photos and even better, i negotiate to have everything put on a cd and delivered to the office for 10 bucks.
mina comes to me later "so i called the photographer and asked him to let me copy his memory stick for 100$." oh mina, you have not been in kinshasa long enough... 
the funniest though, was a few days before the workshop mina sent around the updated agenda and participants list to all the 120 or so people we invited. well somewhere in there, we had a very important guy listed in the speakers list, but not in the list of participants and so he replied-all (everyone replies all, especially the people who reply-all "your message has been received, thank you") complaining that he was forgotten, and his organization is so important and blah blah blah. so my project manager, who does not have the most fluent french, but does ok sends around a response, but jumbles the words and write "sincerement, je m'excuse pas de vous avoir mis dans la liste" essentially saying "i would like to sincerely say, that i am NOT sorry." this goes to everyone, EVERYONE! even the secretary general of the ministry of environment. so then it's 100 rounds of message received, messaged received, message received until someone is all "wait, i think she meant to say she WAS sorry" message received message received message received and there are hundreds of messages, and whenever you get something that is more than 5KB your email is essentially jammed for the entire day. gah. so finally i send a SINCERE apology and tell them they won't be sorry to have attended our workshop heheh! and we have all been giving her a hard time and laughing about it, because i'm sure more embarassing things have happened.
but ending on a touching note, i since received several, simple, reply-to's! just to me! is it even possible? from someone like a cabinet minister telling me things like, we are all working here together in congo towards the same goal, and we are connected in our hearts and understand eachother, we do not need words to express that. nawwwww.   

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