Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Survival of the most adaptable...

We've been here 4 months now, and for the last month Mark and I have been talking long and hard about how things are going. What follows will sound like a justification of why we have decided to resign early, and it is, but perhaps you'll understand us.

The goal of VSO is to accomplish sustainable development: sharing skills, changing lives. We felt, since the beginning, that what we are doing is not sustainable. We have been filling a post they could not fill otherwise. That was a bit annoying, but we still felt we had something to offer the hospital and the community here.
We've been stressed, again since we arrived, about licencing. Rather dull stuff, but it takes years to get a license here in Namibia, and we had (have) real concerns that Mark (and maybe me!) might not be able to work in Canada without being properly registered here.

And working with colleagues as a team... Oh dear. There have been storms and storms. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and 2 of our colleagues aknowlegde, for the most part, their own weaknesses. Mark and I (we hope) know when we are out of our depth and ask for help.

When patient's lives are at stake, it's not the time to be self reliant. It would be different it we were really out in the middle of an untracked jungle, we would have to do the best we could. But here, we are 4 tarmac'd hours from our referral center, where there is an ICU, and actual laboratory investigations can be done regularly, CT scans and everything. Conflict about referral of really sick patients has come up again and again. Conflict about treatments. It's unpleasant.

So we've re-evaluated our priorities. What we came to do is something we believe is not only valid, but also interesting and fascinating. I love caring for patients who are actually sick! (The worried well are few and far between her) But not at the cost of our ability to work together in the same country.

So we handed in our resignation last week (we'll work till Aug 15th). This, or something like this, we would like to do again. But we'll look into our placement with different priorities next time.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to hear you're coming to that conclusion - I know I had similar thoughts while I was in Mali. There are times when you have to figure out if you just need to stick it out a little longer to see if things are going to change or to come to the decision that they aren't and you need to be the one to change - either by what you're doing and how or by going somewhere else... I know you'll make the right choice.

    I'm sure you've heard of these so I'll list a few in case you haven't - development books you might find interesting: Mountains Beyond Mountains? End of Poverty? White Man's Burden? The Bottom Billion? Two Ears of Corn? and Dead Aid? All good books.

    August 15th eh? Might you be home to Canada soon thereafter? I'll be in NH till the 18th and would be great to see you fresh off the boat ;-)