Birthday wishes from the WFP

Just a quick note to tell you all that I had a great birthday here in Nimba. The day went much better than could be expected, starting with the surprise arrival of the chief mechanic who fixed three cars today. It was not really a surprise, but it sort of felt like it, because he arrived on Saturday when I wasn’t around, and then came in to work on Monday morning and started waving his magic wrench around like a fairy sprinkling motor oil and fixing cars.

We’ve had an ongoing, slow motion food crisis related to CSB, or Corn Soya Blend going for a while. We had some go bad, and I didn’t calculate very carefully, since we used to be drowning in the stuff. Turns out that once we had only 20 kg left, someone remembered it was about to be Groundhog Day and decided this time for a change to try telling me before something ran out. Ok, we’re making progress! I figured, no problem, it’s cheap and we only need a bit, we’ll just buy it in the market. But I called my food hustler, and he said, CSB is all out, in his store and all the stores. Oops. So like the grinch, I canceled breakfast on Saturday, to conserve food for the children in the TFC. Then I asked the medical staff to send home something else, anything else, than CSB that they normally send with the discharged TFC patients. I suggested cigarettes, which make you feel less hungry, but they settled on Plumpy Nut instead. This morning we had 7 kgs left, and I finally found 50 kgs of CSB in the marketplace. Yay! Better yet, tomorrow is market day, and I can be sure to find 100 kg more in the big market.

I also spent a huge amount of time today in the WFP offices which are air conditioned, another gift. First I was begging for CSB (they left me hung out to dry on that) and then negotiating the next food delivery. The latter was one more birthday present. Because I came and brought all the details to my food monitor early, and was very cooperative, she was feeling generous. We worked through the numbers, and I told her which commodities I did not want, under any circumstances. 1400 kg of sugar, plus dry season equals a slick of melted sugar flowing out of the bags and across the stockroom. Not good. So she promised not to give me any sugar, a gift in itself. Then she asked me why I was always in her office begging for food when we had too much. I reminded her that sugar is not beans, and that I’m always begging for beans and oil (ok, except today, when I was begging for CSB). So she looked at the 200 kgs of beans and 200 kgs of oil that are in my stock now and said, “well, let’s just not subtract your current stock from your next order like we normally do.” I said, “ok, thanks, nice seeing you, goodbye” in one breath and headed for the door before she could change her mind.

A happy birthday indeed, when you get 400 kgs of food you are not expecting!

As for more conventional birthday presents, those are still in the mail to me. But I have a bunch of birthday cards, and the cook made me a cake for tonight. So we’ll have a nice birthday party in a few minutes when I head in to dinner.


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