According to the finance and personnel departments of the ministry, one must have a certificate of their final payment for internship training. For those who worked abroad, the required service period before obtaining their permanent registration will serve this purpose. There are no other scenarios. Either you do your entire internship in Sudan, or you work for a minimum of one month after coming back, both of which will enable you to obtain this precious certificate of last payment. Without this certificate you cannot enter health civil service. I’m not sure exactly, but I think I’m the first person in history to be exempted from local service, complete my permanent registration AND attempt to enter into civil service.
So what happened is this: after being informed by my boss that a job is available and that I should start the process ASAP I headed to the training directorate with several of my colleagues who were also on the list. They were divided into 2 groups: those who were already in the system and those who were about to start. Each was required to get a different set of documents, their names were double-checked, a couple of phone calls were made and it was done. Then came my turn. I informed them that I was yet to start service because I wasn’t done with my year of national service yet.
‘Alright then, how long?’
‘I’ll be done in a month.’
‘OK, well you’re name is already on the list that has been sent to finance, but you’ll have to finish your khidma first and you’ll get paid a month later than everyone else. We can’t issue a job to someone who’s already in a job.’
‘OK ma moshkila.’
‘Alright, now give us your file.’
‘Your file. The MOH file with all your original documents and your certificate of last payment.’
‘Your internship payment.’
‘Oh, that. I didn’t do my internship here, I did it in Oman.’
At that point we realized that I didn’t exist in the system. I explained the story of how I had been exempted from redoing the minimum requirement and therefore had never been paid for anything. The lady in charge was one of those few people who actually use the brain they possess, and after thinking it over for a few minutes, said we could simply create a new file, and that since I was almost done with my national service, we could use the certificate of last payment from that instead. So, I would have to wait for about a month then bring all my original papers and passport before I could move forward and join everyone else. Sounded fine to me.
I came back a month later with all my papers and the certificate of last payment which I had used to complete my national service stuff. I handed it all in to the same lady and we then looked my name up because it was incomplete. It was there, but it was wrong. I use Reem Gaafar in all my official correspondences, sign all my papers, etc., but on the passport its Reem Osman Mahgoub Gaafar. So whoever had sent my name had sent Reem Gaafar, and that was the name that had been sent to finance. It took me another hour to explain this, and everyone said we had to do ‘everything’ again. The lady who uses her brain said we could just simply correct the name, but it would take time. Maaaa moshkila, do whatever you need to do lady.
‘OK then, so where’s your bank account information?’
‘What bank account information?!’
‘You need to have a bank account number attached to your file.’
I don’t know what it is with people that don’t tell you everything you need to get at once. I had been asked to get all sorts of papers, but nothing about a bank account. They then remembered to tell me to get a new letter of employment dated AFTER my national service to prove that I had ‘started’ work with the ministry. GRRRR. Ok then, ma moshkila, I needed to get a new bank account anyway because my old one was in Afra Mall which had burnt down ages ago and the bank had moved to the other side of the country. I then went through the process of trying to get a bank account with an ATM card. Usually, this process takes 3 days and 2 visits. In Sudan (or maybe it was just my bad luck), it took 3 weeks and 6 visits (but that’s another story). I got the remaining required papers from work and went back to the training directorate and gave it all in. I then asked a specific question:
‘Aye khalas. Everything will be sent to finance so just check your account.’
This was all the way back in June. I checked my account several times and nothing was there. Then one day the big boss himself came to our institute and asked to see me. He told me there was ‘something wrong’ with my papers, and I explained the whole internship in Oman story again. He said he’ll help sort things out and that I should follow up with Folan. Now Folan used to work in our same institute before being transferred to the scholarships section in the directorate. He was a nice guy and I had always gotten along with him quite well. I didn’t want to bother him too much with this issue, so a few days later I went down myself to what the problem is.
‘The problem is, you don’t have a certificate of your last payment as an intern.’
There are many definitions of mental retardation that can be explained here and many things I would have liked to say out loud to the woman who gave me this statement. However, I choked it all down and proceeded to explain for the 50th time that I had done my internship in Oman and had been exempted by the council of minimum local service. The blank stares all around me showed that whatever I was saying made no sense to anyone in the room. The lady (who possesses the brain) called over the partition to some other lady who was ‘in-charge’ of the internship process and told her the story. The other lady affirmed that there was no such thing, and that no one gets through the council without doing at least a month of local service. Whatever story I was giving them was total nonsense apparently. You gotta admire some people sometimes. They state their opinions as facts and no matter what proof of the opposite they say, the stick to their facts. Kida bas.
‘So where’s the proof?’
‘The proof of what?’
‘Proof of your being exempted from local service.’
‘Woman, I have already been permanently registered by the medical council as a medical officer. I already took and passed the exam. I wouldn’t be able to even apply for that exam without completing my internship. It’s like asking for an elementary school certificate when applying for a PhD.’
‘Ma ba3rif, bas dayreen alwaraga di.’
Of course, this paper was issued in 2009, and it was 2013. I had no idea where it was. I had searched through every file and folder I owned both in Sudan and Oman, asked my cousins and anyone else who had been involved in the issue, and it was nowhere to be found.
‘Dayreen alwaraga di. Jeebeha min almajlis.’
‘You know very well I won’t find it filmajlis.’
‘Bas almohim jebeha, illla bas alwaraga di.’
I then asked a specific question (again):
‘Khalas kida? Is this the ONLY paper you need? If I find and get this paper everything will be solved? Ma dayren AYI 7AJA tani?’
Kwayis. Kwayyyyis. I would get that stupid paper if it was the last thing I do, 3ashan bas ashof alnas deil 7aya3malo shino. Kwayis. I then embarked on another 2 week process of going back and forth, knocking on doors, getting pushed out of the way, nagging and refusing to get out of the office, in order to get the 6 year old decision that exempt me from local service. I was informed that anything older than 2012 had been moved to the archives, and that the archives had been burnt down. What?!? What do you mean burnt down?
‘Obedat ya bitti. 7aragoha. Kol alwarag. Ansi almowdou3 da khalas.’
Apparently, this is a normal thing in governmental institutions. When papers get more than 2 years old they incinerate them. Its actually too funny to laugh at.
‘Asma3i. I need this paper. I need it. I can’t get a job without it. Can’t you look for it on your computers?’
‘Alcomputers di bititfarmat wu bitboz very often, ma 7atitlagi aslan.’
‘Forget about it.’
‘Please just try, nag nag nag nag nagnagnngnannangganaaaggg…’
‘Khalas yakh KHALAS. BASHOFA. AMSHI AG3ODI BARA YALLAH.’
I stood in the corridor for a while and watched that sour old lady sign every single paper and do every possible thing before getting up as slowly as possible from her chair and poking her head into the office next to hers. I couldn’t hear what she was saying but I understood that she was asking the girl to look up my certificate, something with the name of Reem from either 2009 or 2010 (I couldn’t even remember the date). The girl typed in a few strokes and then looked up at the lady. They both looked at the screen. A short while later she came out carrying a piece of paper and I stopped her in the corridor.
‘Yeah that’s me, is that my paper?’
‘You have NO idea how lucky you are. All these computers have been formatter a zillion times. It’s a miracle this paper was on this particular computer all these years.’
I couldn’t believe it myself, but I didn’t have time to celebrate. I got the paper signed and stamped and rushed down the road to the training directorate and handed it in. But the lady with the brain wasn’t there, only her friends were.
‘Yes?’ one lady asked me.
‘Ana Reem, this is the paper you asked for.’
Ok, now this lady had seen and talked to me at least 10,000 times in the past 3 months. Everyone in that office knew my whole name and story by heart. And now she was acting like she had no idea who I was and what I was doing there. After a short explanation, she took the paper from my hand and threw it into a drawer.
‘I’ll call you tomorrow.’
I knew she wasn’t going to call so I took her number so that I would call her myself. And call I did, the next day late noon to ask what had happened, and received the answer that my name had already been sent to finance, and that I should follow up with them.
‘My name was sent to finance 3 months ago.’
‘Yeah well, tani ma 3indik 7aja 3indana. Bas.’
Fine then, you @$%#$^#%&, I’ll follow up with finance. Our accountant was in a good mood and so offered to call them for me, and we talked to Samia who said that yes, we know Reem very well, she doesn’t have the certificate of last payment from the internship. YA ILLAHI YA MAWLAY, GOD PLEASE GIVE ME THE PATIENCE NOT TO BURN THIS MINISTRY AND ALL THE STUPID PEOPLE IN IT TO THE GROUND. Yes woman, we know that, and I got that piece of paper you asked for and handed it in yesterday.
‘Ma jatna 7aja.’
What do you mean ma jatkom 7aja? So we called the training directorate again, and got into a squabble over the phone, at which point the @#%@#^$^@$ women who had acted like they had no idea who I am then declared that if I wanted that paper delivered to finance, I should come and get it myself.
Ok apparently this story is much longer than I thought it would be, so I’ll leave the rest of it for part 3. I’m about the have a stroke anyway just remembering all this crap.
To be continued.