I wish that this post was going to contain good news, but the project is not going well at this point.
Scuppered by limited funds, I am scratching together the funds to continue as I was sold a bad batch of computers, at this point if I am successful I will bring the project to break-even at this end.
My protege in the Gambia, who told me that he knew what he was doing, seems to not know what he is doing at all and is now only in communication once every twenty four hours to ask when the next computers are coming rather than getting on with his end of the project.
Despite my own lack of funds I have sent the following items to The Gambia:
- Two PC tablet computers, which were intact when they left here, well packed with chargers. One arrived broken, and has been sold to provide 3000 dalasi (£60) to provide immediate assistance to the recipient.
- A digital camera, capable of producing video plus cables, batteries, charger and SD card
- A condenser microphone for recording interviews and connector cable
- A multi adapter to enable several different items to be used with the tablet
- An SD reader, in case any of the cables get lost or sold
- Three memory sticks, to assist with transferring information should mobile broadband be too expensive
- A speaker, to enable testing of the material before sending to me for editing
- A mini to usb cable for tethering, but this is now free because the recipient figured out how to get the tablet online despite the expense
- An SD card, unspecified
The speaker was taken by the recipient’s brother on the first night, and the SD card went to the recipient’s boss as he had provided loans to the recipient. He has failed to update me on the other items, and so I am unable to report how many of the others he has lost or sold. I included two tablet computers, since I was aware the recipient has constant financial difficulties as this is why he started talking to me in the first place. This should leave sufficient equipment for him to start a channel on youtube, a blog and procure work from fiverr which would easily provide him with an additional income.
I suggested that as the recipient is very shy, that his somewhat more go-getting brother be the face of the project, and sharpen his presentation skills in addition to making better use of the equipment than selling it. The recipient tells me that in Africa, people expect money before success, which tells you rather a lot about why some areas of Africa are in a constant state of economic failure.
The recipient has not said thank you yet, nor is he staying in communication. Before the parcel arrived he was constantly talking online, he now appears once every twenty four hours and either complains, or asks when his next parcel is arriving. I have told him that unless I see some evidence of the project at his end, no further parcels will be forthcoming, which he has responded to with more complaints and excuses. I set up two email addresses, a youtube channel, a separate account for linkedin, a facebook page with likes and recommended a specific twitter account be created for the project. He appears to have struggled with all of this, and now seems not to have understood any of the conversations we had prior to my sending out the equipment.
I have also given instructions for handling the project, and no attempt seems to be being made to actually carry them out. Instead I read messages indicating that he does not know what he is doing at all, and is not really trying to make the thing work.
As you can see, things are not going well so far. From what appeared to be an intelligent and serious person who wanted to self-develop and fund his enormous family, we have a whinging creep who is now trying to say just enough to get more equipment without doing any actual work. I am not at all happy with this so far.
Still, I did this with the full knowledge that it was possible that he would just sell all of it, in which case I need not bother with this silly dude again, so the situation is not beyond saving if the recipient pulls his finger out.
I have been told a story from Germany, which indicated that African workers in Germany managed to work like Germans, and when that project moved to Africa, suddenly forgot how to do it. Perhaps sunshine is to blame, or perhaps the problem is blaming other people when what you really need is a work ethic.