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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Getting fed up... and worried

This is starting to get really frustrating...

I leave for Malawi next Friday, meaning I have just eight full days left. And the following problem, which I've known about for more than a month, still isn't solved:

I don't know where Chawezi is, which means I don't know where to stay.

The root of this problem, I'm very sorry to say, is with World Vision. Now I love the organization, and not just because I worked there for almost eight years. But my experience as a child sponsor visiting the field has been lousy. Here's what I've been through so far.

  • Contacted them in January about visiting. Took a week or two to get back to me about the process.
  • They require a background check for all visitors - no problem there. But they never notified me when the results came back I waited for almost a month, and finally called someone 'on the inside' that I know, who told me that the results came back within a week, and that I was approved.
  • This resulted in me delaying my trip to June, which cost me more in higher airfare.
  • I was expecting an email from the field staff in March or April. Never got it. Called in early May. Was told I would get it the next day, and if I didn't to call back.
  • I didn't get it the next day.
  • Called back the day after, and was told the request to resend it to me had just gone out to field staff, and I'd get it in another day or so (Friday).
  • I didn't.
  • I got the email the following Tuesday. It did not tell me if Chawezi was still in the hospital or not, or even what city she was in. It did contain the cell  numbers of two contact people in Malawi.
  • Due to the 9 hour time difference, I stayed up until midnight Sunday night (wanted to catch them first thing Monday morning, their time) to call them, only to find that neither number would work.
  • I emailed local World Vision staff immediately, asking them to help me contact the field staff as the numbers provided didn't work. That was Sunday night.
  • As of Wednesday (today), still no response.
  • I called the office and begged them to call me back.
  • They didn't.
  • But they DID finally reply to my email from Sunday night.
Now they've requested the that the field staff respond with correct contact info, and that'll probably take another couple of days. Then I have to try reaching them again. That means probably next Monday, only four days before I leave. Meanwhile I have a hotel booked in the capital city of Lilongwe (pronounced li-LONG-way) for the whole trip, but if she's home or near her home, that won't work (4-5 hour drive each way).

Ugh.

I've started reminding myself that in the worst care scenario, I'll be able to get it all straightened out once I get there. That'll be a lot harder for all concerned, but if that's what happens, so be it. But I'd much prefer things get done the easy way. Is that so wrong?

I can only imagine what a 'normal' child sponsor (who didn't work there or years) might be feeling right about now?

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