Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ethiopian Journey: part five

Irene and her colleagues have discovered the full extent of the other team's deviation from agreed procedures.

"It was all too much for J-----, and she fainted dead away. While we tried to revive her, D----- wittered away in my ear about how Windows was all the locals could get to grips with, that there was no point troubling them with Ubuntu. Eventually we were able to return J----- to consciousness.

"'Look," I exclaimed to D-----, 'We've seen enough. There's no time to waste. We must see K----- immediately. Bring us to him! Now!'

"'Of course, yes, this way,' he muttered back obsequiously, gesturing us down a corridor into the hotel's interior. Then he brought us round a corner and into a room, darkened by closed blinds, where, behind a desk, sat the man who had to be the team's chief coordinator.

"So this was K-----. Like the other volunteers here, he was clad in a soiled linen suit. It seemed like a diet rich in injera had been hard on him, for he had bloated to monstrous proportions. As we came into the room, he looked quizzically at us, with sad eyes that seemed to see into our very souls.

"'They are from the other team, Mr K-----!' said D-----. 'I showed them the classroom, the great work…' His voice trailed off. K----- made no reply.

"I took C-----'s letter from my pocket. 'K-----,' I said, 'my name is Irene. C----- has sent us to see you. He has directed us to bring your project to an end.' This brought a sharp intake of breath from D-----, but no reaction from K-----. 'He has given me a letter to read to you.'

"'"Dear K----. I know you have done good work for us before, but what you are doing now is unacceptable. I appreciate that you are still achieving excellent results, but your deviation from our policy puts the entire programme at risk. I therefore have no choice but to close down your project, with immediate effect. I repeat: your team is to stop its work now, as soon as you receive this message. Instruct the volunteers to send away the students, without certificates, and then have them pack their things. They are to take the first bus to Addis Ababa and – check into the Hotel T-----. There they will fine… "' The rest of the letter was taken up with the details of the team's transport back to Ireland.

"D----- looked plaintively at the chief coordinator. 'Mr K-----?' With a glance at him, and a shrug of his shoulders, K----- signalled his acquiescence to the project's cessation. 'So it is over!' exclaimed D-----, plaintively.

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