Sophia's Peace Work

Monday, April 23, 2007


We are having a major staff meeting in Kurdistan soon ... we have about 20+ staff coming up for the meeting and we have to put them up in the house somehow. We need to make some hard decisions about who is coming up and who is staying in Baghdad. Last week we had a bad experience ... some "security police" invaded the office in Baghdad and put all the staff in one room while they searched the office ... they didn't take anything but they asked alot of questions about a senior project manager (who is in Canada at the moment) and a senior project advisor who has recently left NI. It really scared the staff and we've closed the office for the time being ... the staff have all been working out of their homes or in internet cafes since than. We even have people doing lab work in their homes (because we were doing water quality samples in Kurdistan only a month ago and the lab work isn't done yet). One of the lab technicians snuck into the office for two hours to precipitate samples. What a crazy time!

We have five staff here now here in the north ... a kurdish office manager who's English is ... well, ok but whenever I ask him a question, he must first start by sputtering, "Yes, yes, no, no, yes, no, .... what?" (to be fair his English is miles beyond my Arabic and of course Kurdish ... so I have no room to complain)

A Kurdish logistics guy who is in charge of transportation issues. I seems quite nice and helpful but whenever I ask him to get something, this begins an hour long discussion between him and the office manager about what I want and how to go about getting it.

An Arab logistics guy, this guy was forced upon me ... he is the nephew of our senior staff (I am forever a victim of WASTA, aka cronyism) ... but so far, he's working out well.

Another Arab logistics guy, who is really pissed that I wont let him drive the car (we bought a car for field work and I've decided only our Kurdish logistics guy is allowed to drive it) ... the first day we had the car, this guy sat in the drivers seat playing music.

A Kurdish cook/cleaner ... who I resisted hiring because there are only a few of us staying here in the office at present and it seems wasteful to me ... but he's a really great guy and a good cook (but I admit that I am getting tired of the Iraqi tendency to use tons of oil and tomato paste in ALL of their dishes).


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