The Namibian visa story drained a lot of my energy and there are still a lot of things that I don’t understand:
- Why would the policy of a country not welcome people who are willing to work for free for non-profit organizations that end up creating work places for local people?
- Why would it take 4 months to make a decision about a visa application?
- Why would you call to announce that the visa was approved and the permit can be picked up when in fact the application was rejected, and the permit transforms into a letter of rejection?
- Why do so many people working for the government abuse their positions?
- Did they even read the application before making a decision or are all the applications for which no bribes were paid just rejected by default?
I would be very grateful if anyone could explain at least some of these things to me.
Short version of this long story: since mid March, we (BEN Namibia and I) are trying to apply for a one year volunteer permit for myself. Namibia doesn’t understand the concept of “volunteers”, so it has to go through a working visa application. 26th of June the visa was rejected. 8th of July home affairs called to say that it was approved, it only needs to be picked up. 17th of July home affairs hands in a rejection letter instead of the working permit.
I was getting really enthusiastic about my future work in Namibia, I was picturing bike trailers in many other places, not just Walvis Bay, I was imagining myself biking around Namibia, promoting this free and healthy way of transportation, I was starting to think of a “riding your bicycle month” fundraising campaign, I was thinking about ways to estimate the impact of an NGO on a given community. So many ideas, so much time waiting for a response, so much stress to obtain all sort of ridiculous documents, so many people trying to make it happen…and all for nothing. And that’s when the “something” was an unpaid job for an organization that has improved that lives of many Namibians so far.
Oh, well…for sure it’s not the first, nor the last time when ideas and good intentions go to waste because of bureaucracy, abuse of power and/or corruption.
Meanwhile, I’m featured in the national newspaper of the only country in the world which refused me a volunteer visa so far. Not for this story (yet), but for the best job I ever had: collecting garbage on the streets for recycling.
It was nice to get to know you, Namibia. You might think you’re special and maybe you actually are, but that doesn’t mean you have to be so damn arrogant. Being humble is generally a better strategy.
On the road again…Tanzania next week.