Sunday, September 29, 2013


So once again, Sudan is revolting. Everyone’s saying how this is it, this is THE revolution that will finally unglue the NCP and cast them down history’s hall of shame. The demonstrations are rather smaller than last time, mostly because university students are nowhere to be seen (I mean the demonstrations are not initiated in universities). However, it’s obvious that the size isn’t what’s bothering the government, because the crackdowns are deadlier than ever and all reserves have been called to action. I keep wondering, don’t the police and NISS goons have families of their own that someone else is pounding on? Anyway, they should be scared because this time they’ve simply gone too far: too far with their lies, too far with their insults, too far with their idiotic justifications of the damage they’ve done and keep on doing.

We’ve all been glued to our TV and computer screens, watching news of the clashes and updates of the casualties. A distant cousin of mine, whom I have never met, was killed on the first day of the clashes while standing in line at the bakery for bread. He wasn’t even in the riots, and was shot with 8 other people and died the next morning. The first pictures that filtered in were of kids in school uniforms and flip flops, all hit in the head or neck. But that hasn’t been the most sickening thing. As is their custom, government officials have been all over TV in interviews and statements, defending their excessive use of force, justifying the president’s RIDICULOUS speech about how the NCP saved the nation from a life of poverty and did them the favour of introducing them to the luxury or fast-food. I’ve seen that ignoramus Rabei AbdelAti (who rumour has it was beaten up after Friday prayers for telling families to get their kids off the streets), Qutbi Elmahdi, Ahmed Bilal the minister of information, and some other dude who’s name I couldn’t even bother trying to remember, all arguing that a) there are no riots, just a bunch of punks burning down public and private property, b) the government has been paying through its teeth for the oil subsidies because of its love and respect for the people’s feelings but just simply couldn’t afford the price of this paternal affection anymore, and c) there are no riots, just a bunch of punks burning down public and private property. This biggest joke of course is their belief that the oil hike will only affect the ‘rich minority’ of the population who own ‘5 and 6 cars’ per household, while the rest of the country still ride donkey carts. I mean, really, what irritates me the most is that these people don’t even MAKE AN EFFORT to sound like they have an IQ higher than that of a tea pot. Ho mino gheirkom alli have 5 and 6 and 20 cars per household, wu kolo halfot fil7ukoma drives only the latest model of luxury cars and no one min alra2ees lelghafeer pays one damn CENT for their petrol? Yakh ma tikhtashi yakhi. ARAF.

And as usual, the president is nowhere to be seen, except for news of his humiliation in being denied an entry visa to the US to attend the world leaders’ get-together that even Iran got invited to. Poor guy, he even had his hotel bookings in downtown Manhattan and everything. I wonder, but doubt, if he’s been watching the news at all, or even has a glimpse of what’s going on in this land of his, the land he owns and will rule until his dying day ‘even if there are only 15 people left’. What we do see, however, are the cracks in the regime starting to show, as people like Gazi Salah Eldin, who just can’t seem to decide which side he’s on and keeps one foot-in-and-one-foot-out, with 30 of his pals declare their refusal of the government’s decisions and advise it to ‘think again’. As if they ever thought about it in the first place, because everyone knows that thinking requires a brain. The prize of the evening though goes to the YouTube video of Nafie Ali Nafie getting kicked out of Salah Sanhouri’s funeral home, the young pharmacist who was one of those shot in the demonstrations and whose funeral procession itself turned into another demonstration, which was of course dispersed by the riot police with tear gas and live ammunition. I wish my relatives had given Asha Alghabshawi the same treatment Nafie got, but they’re too respectable for that, unfortunately.

However, I am disappointed in these riots. I’m disappointed because I thought that when the time comes, EVERYONE will be out on the streets. And when I say everyone, I mean all those people in Marabee3 Alshareef, Sharg Elniel, Ombada and Alfath who lost their homes and belongings and children in the August floods, who the government simply ignored as they died of drowning and electrocution and exposure and disease. I thought all those thousands of girls and women who have been rounded up and whipped in public and fined for wearing ‘indecent clothing’ would be at the front of the line. I thought all those sittat alshay and farasha who’s tables and glasses are kicked to pieces by the police and are jailed for working without a license would be out there shouting for the fall of the regime that has been starving their families for the past 24 years and has brought the nation down to its knees with blow after crushing blow, and has no plans of falling back, let alone leave. 

Sometimes I wonder, don’t these people EVER think of the Day of Judgement?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Coming Home: 3

So after I collected every single possible and impossible document in existence and delivered them to the training directorate, I was then informed that nothing was happening. I got irritated, and so called the big boss who had offered to help before and who had told me to talk to Folan. So I called him again and told him what was up. He told me to talk to Folan (again), give him all my papers and that he’ll take care of things. And that Folan was currently in the institute where I work because he has some proposal or something to take care of. I had Folan’s number and called him but he didn’t answer. So I left my office, went down the stairs, across the yard, into the next building, up the stairs, down the corridor looking into each room until I found him in a lecture hall on the top floor. I walked over to him and said hi, I had just called him and he hadn’t picked up.
‘Oh that was you?’
Ha ha, funny. I had no reason to believe he was ignoring me at this point, but anyway I told him what was going on and that the big boss had told me to tell him. He said he’ll look it up and that I should give him a few days. He works in the same place as those women do so it shouldn’t be a problem for him. I then told him that under no circumstances am I going back to the directorate and talking to those women again. So I gave him more than a few days, and then he called me and asked me about – guess what – the certificate of my last payment for the internship. Sigh. I told him the story (which I had already told him before), and told him about the certificate that had taken me more than 2 weeks to find. He wasn’t even listening to me and I could hear the women talking to him in the background. He then told me to get the certificate I had provided for the national service. I told him it was in my file, that was the first paper I put into it aslan. Well, I should bring it again and give it to him.
‘What? I just told you the paper is in the file in front of you. Don’t you have my file?’
‘Look, just get the certificate.’
‘Why should I come all the way down there (when I told you I am NOT going there again) to give you a paper you already have?’
It then occurred to me that he had no idea what was even in my file.
‘Where’s my file? Don’t you have it?’
‘I don’t know anything about your file. Just get me the paper yakh!’
‘Wait a minute. WHERE IS MY FILE.’
At this point I noticed that he was shouting at me on the phone. I was too shocked to shout back or tell him to stick it. There was no reason whatsoever for him to be shouting, and to be shouting at me in particular. In the end he said I should just scan the paper and send it to him wu khalas, and we hung up. I was livid, I couldn’t believe this was the same Folan who was always nice and smiling when we worked together. Anyway, I scanned the paper and sent it to him and heard nothing for the next 2 days, until he sent me an email and told me that this was not the paper he wanted. I needed to get this paper from the ministry itself (the same people I had unknowingly bypassed when first applying for my national service over a year ago). I told him this was the paper I had used to get my national service clearance (implicitly implying that if it was good enough for asyad almowdou3 it should be good enough for the directorate). He didn’t even answer back.
Obviously, I had had enough. It was just ridiculous, and it had already been almost 3 months and my salary should have been 4 times what I was getting (I was still getting paid the minimum national service wage). I talked the institute director and told her that the job thing wasn’t working and could we just forget about it, I could be attached to any ongoing project with a regular contract because I was sick and tired of it all. She reasoned with me that she could give me a contract but that the ministry’s policy of banning contracts meant that I wouldn’t have the job for long, and that this official ministry job was a great catch and would solve the employment problem once and for all. So she said she’ll look into it herself. I said fine.
I gave her a couple of weeks and then asked about it again, and she told me that she had talked to the big boss and he had told her that he had told me to follow up with Folan and then get back to him which I didn’t (yi6rishni). And that Folan (the same Folan) was handed back the task of ‘working it out’ and had taken my papers to the employment committee in Riyad and now we should just sit and wait. Fine then. I continued my work and my meetings and my running around and continued to receive the same minimum wage. I asked about the progress a couple of times again, and got the same answer. About a week ago I applied for a study break to focus on my final masters module, and while getting my papers signed asked about the job again, and told them that really, if it’s not working out can we PLEASE forget about it so that I can move on with my life already. I was told that things WERE moving forward. Sure enough, the next day I got a call from the administrative director at the directorate (not the big boss). I knew the guy; he used to work in the institute when I had first arrived, and I disliked him immensely. But he was very nice on the phone, even when he asked me about my certificate of last payment from the internship. He then asked me to please come to his office on Sunday morning to work things out. So Sunday morning I showed up at his office, ready for a fight. We went over my file (which had appeared out of nowhere and handed to him by the big boss himself) and counted the papers. As expected, the council’s decision was missing. I told him I had given it to ‘those women’ and they had thrown it into a drawer.
‘Those women, huh?’
Oops. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that but he didn’t look too annoyed. He probably hated them himself (who wouldn’t?) I tried to fix things by saying there was this one lady (the one who had a brain) who was managing things quite well but then she left and someone else was running things.
‘Yeah, Ustaza Khansa was moved somewhere else unfortunately, and now there are those 2 girls.’
I guess he did feel the same about them as I did. Anyway, he made a couple of phone calls then got up and we went downstairs and into the other building to see ‘those women’. They were sitting there all smug and comfortable, and actually dared to roll their eyes when they saw me. The guy sat down and brought out the file, and started telling the story.
‘3arfeeeen di Reem Osman Mahgoub Gaafar, wu 3indaha that job wu kalamnaha ino she needs to get the certificate of last payment, walmoshkila min nas al7isabat wu tani ma 3indaha 3indana 7aja.’
I admire myself immensely for my strength and ability to hold back and not punch that woman in the face and knock the other one over the table. The woman who was talking was going through the papers in my file and pointing out what was ‘wrong’ with them.
‘Wu zato akhir sarfiya di ma bikon shaklaha kida.’
This was the paper I had gotten from my institute and used to get the national service clearance. Apparently it should be this long list of months and money and ma 3arif shino. Ya3ni ana 3amaltaha barai fi betna masalan? The guy was getting irritated and so called someone, and the someone whoever it was told him that I had to be ‘re-employed’. Re-employed keif ya3ni when she didn’t even get the job to start with? He listened for a while then asked me if I had ever gone to the employment committee in Riyad before I had left to Oman. I told him I had. He rubbed his face and by the look of glee and shamata on the women’s faces I knew the joke was on me. He hung up and told me that, actually, since I had already been to the committee and received a job number all those years ago, I had already been employed by the ministry of health.
‘She was probably sacked because she hadn’t shown up for her internship and just LEFT the country.’
I couldn’t believe my ears. The joke really was on me. I ignored the satisfied looks on the women’s faces and asked the guy what the solution to this predicament would be. He said we should ask Wada7, so we walked out of the office, into the yard, turned around the building and entered by another door and into the same cubicle that the confident lady was sitting in 3 months ago. Thankfully she wasn’t there. There were 2 guys, one young and one old. The old one was Wada7. The guy told him my story and without a pause he offered us a solution.
‘Why doesn’t she just apply for a new job?’
‘What do you mean just apply for a new job.’
‘Just write a letter to the director (the big boss) asking for a new job. He can sign it and then you can take it to the employment committee in Riyad, but apply for the 8th grade instead of the 9th. For the 8th grade, you don’t need proof of your internship. Bas.’
Bas? Well then, perhaps there are still people out there other than the lady who still have a brain. We skipped out of the building and into the other building. I sat down at the desk, wrote a letter to the director asking for the job with attached certificates. I then handed it to the director’s secretary. She told me to write down my number and she’ll call me when my paper is read. The guy was already in his office less than a meter from where I was standing and we both knew that. I hadn’t come all this way for some Farmville-playing sifinja-wearing secretary to stop me. I told her as nicely as I could that she could just give him the paper now and I’ll wait for as long as it takes. And then I sat down in front of her face, until she finally got up and took the paper inside, and came out less than 30 seconds later with it signed and stamped. I took it (without a thank you :D ) and met the director, we went back downstairs to Wada7 who took the letter and told me to wait outside. I sat outside, looking at people coming and going, at the fashion crimes and the horrendous effects of marriage and childbirth on women’s shapes and attire, and admired the fact that despite the hell I was going through, I couldn’t remember once coming to any of these offices (or any other governmental facility actually) and finding people ‘out for breakfast’. It’s a well known joke in Sudan about how governmental employees are never in their offices, always taking long breaks to eat or pray or just go home early, and they’re always irritated and unhelpful. I remember a few months ago when I went to get a yellow fever vaccine that the staff in one of the offices where complaining about the new regulations that it was now unallowed for any staff to leave their office to eat. They had to bring a sandwich or whatever and stay put. And that someone had been found out of their office ‘filfa6our’ and had been fired on the spot. I don’t know if that was the case or not, but I can’t help but admit that whatever incompetence is obvious in the governmental sector, it’s not because of people leaving their desks for hours for a break.
After almost half an hour I poked my head into Wada7’s office and asked if he was done. Sure enough, he was sitting at the computer typing in a request for my job. He printed it out, stamped it and gave it to me to take to Riyadh. He then told me that I better take ‘someone’ with me because if I didn’t, it would take a ‘long time’. I thanked him and went back to the other guy’s office, and he told me to leave all my papers with him and he would take them himself. I didn’t trust him and said I’d do it myself, if he could just give me the name of someone to meet there to help me out.
‘3ala keifik. Lakin if you go yourself your papers will be stuck there for up to 3 years.’
Aji yakhwani? I actually knew this story to be true, because some guy at work who had been promoted 3 years ago was just getting his paper work in place. I thought it over (very quickly), then told him I’d just have to photocopy a couple of papers and then I’d give him my file with everything in it. Sure enough, I left the building and walked down the street to a store in the corner where I had bought that same file 4 months ago. There were a couple of girls and an old guy sitting in a chair. The girl had just gotten her picture taken by the other girl and the guy was her father. He then told her to go sit in the car so that no one would take it. After she left he wondered if someone might take the car anyway with her in it, but apparently that thought didn’t bother him much because he stayed where he was. As the other girl cut the pictures, he asked me where the high school certificate place was. I gave him directions and told him he’d find a crowd of kids near the place anyway so he wouldn’t miss it. He thanked me, then asked if they needed pictures for the high school certificate. I laughed.
‘I can’t remember, really. It’s been a while.’
A while? It’s been more than a DECADE. Yeesh, how I hate growing old L. I then looked up and saw the most appropriate sign to fit into the situation I was in hanging over the photocopying machine.

It was so funny I couldn't help but take a picture. Then some kid came in acting all crazy and asking for a pair of pants (which he was already wearing).
'Dayir ban6alon, ban6alon ma 3indi.'
This girl at the counter told him hiya ma 3indaha ban6alon either.
'6ayeb adeni alfi jineh ashtari ley Birinji.'
Birinji is our local brand of cigarettes. I wanted to tell him inta ma 3indak ban6alon zato dayir tishtari sijarat Birinji? But he was gone and I wasn't really interesting in picking a fight with a psycho, so I collected my papers, walked back to the directorate, handed everything over to the guy and left. That was 2 days ago and I don’t expect to hear anything from him soon. As I was leaving the building I ran into one of the women I had grown to hate over the past few months. She asked me if I had worked out the problem.
‘So they solved the internship problem?’
‘Nope. We simply moved over it to a higher post. I don’t need the internship certificate anymore.’
‘Oh really, that’s such good news, good luck with everything!’
I didn’t even bother to pretend to either smile at her or give her a dirty look, and simply walked out the door. So we’ll just have to wait for part 4 then.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Coming Home: 2

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.’
‘What 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.’
‘Oh God.’
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:
‘Khalas kida?’
‘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.’
‘Just try.’
‘Forget about it.’
‘Please just try, nag nag nag nag nagnagnngnannangganaaaggg…’
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.
‘Inti Reem?’
‘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.’
‘Reem mino?’
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.
Kida bas.
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.

Coming Home: 1

This rant is pretty long so I’m breaking down into 2 parts. It’s about my attempt to integrate into the Sudan health civil service through the ministry of health. One would think that with the absurd rate of migration especially that of health workers the government would try holding onto those remaining (or crazy enough to actually come back from abroad like myself) instead of putting every possible and impossible obstacle in front of them.
For the doctors, the usual pathway after graduation is as follows:
1.       After obtaining your releasing papers from university (not the actual certificate), you start the process of temporary registration in the medical council. This includes taking the Hippocrates oath (which is a really big issue but apparently mostly people just sit deaf through the whole thing, say ‘I do’ and move on with their lives). This temporary registration licenses doctors to work as a house officer/intern
2.       Then you head to the employment committee HQ in Riyadh (next t Havana) where you will obtain a job number
3.       The process of employment and internship isn’t clear for me at this point, since after waiting for 4 months for my name to come up I then moved to Oman and started my internship there. Someone told me my name appeared in October, 7 months after graduating
4.       After completing the internship period one is then obliged to take the permanent registration exam (or like everyone likes to call it: emte7an albermanat) which was previously linked to national service (alkhidma) but later this was changed and people can take the exam without completing the previously required 6 months
5.       After passing the exam (which everyone does unless they studied geography or mechanics and had no basic knowledge of how the human body works), a few more procedures are completed and fees are paid, after which one obtains their permanent registration in the medical council and can then apply for a residency program or continue work as a medical officer and go their own way.
After completing my internship in Oman I came back to Sudan for a couple of months to try and complete steps 4 and 5. However, all those practicing abroad (internship and onwards) are required to complete a specific period of time working in Sudan as an equalization process. I applied to the council and they ordered me to complete 4 weeks in each specialty, totaling to 16 weeks. By the time this decision had come out I had already been offered a post back in Oman, which gave me only 45 days off during the entire year, and to complete this period I would need more than 3 years which didn’t make sense. Also, I had trained in a high quality teaching hospital with hands on experience and it was just ridiculous. The people who had finished before me were exempted from any extra work. So after appealing the council’s decision (and regrettably pulling a few strings) the council relooked into my case and decided to let me off. They then gave me their printed decision of exemption, which I used to apply for the exam, and then lost. I waited for about over a year and timed the exam with the elections, got on a plane and came home, voted against Albashir, took the exam 3 days later, passed and got on the plane back home. A year later I came back and completed all remaining procedures and received my certificate of permanent registration.
Then came the national service hassle. Every time I would come to Sudan and attempt to leave I would be faced with the issue of the travel card. People aren’t allowed to leave the country if they’re anywhere between the age of 18 and 65 if they haven’t completed their national service, unless they have proof and permission of working abroad or being exempt from it. Every year I would have to go through an annoying process of obtaining travel permission, paying 100 pounds and then getting a travel card which would be shown to some guy at the airport and then thrown in the trash a minute later. It was so annoying. I tried to start my national service so that I could work during my holidays, but I wasn’t allowed to and was told I had to be in the country for the entire year of service. So when I got it into my head to leave Oman, the first thing I did was start my recruitment process into national service, not because I wanted to serve my country (on minimum wage), but because I wanted that national service out of my hair once and for all. I was advised by pretty much everyone to buy my way out of it; an idea that I find nauseous and refuse by principle. I got a job with the national Public Health Institute which is a part of the training directorate of the ministry of health. I completed all required procedures and settled into a long year of service for the equivalent of $110 a month. At the end of the year we were informed that a set of jobs had appeared in the ministry and we were required to bring all our papers.
So here’s the thing. There are no jobs in the civil service of Sudan. I know that doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t. But the deteriorating economical condition of the country has given the government an excuse to downsize and cut down on the number of its civil servants. Basic salaries are pathetic and people generally live on allowances, so that when they retire their pensions are pretty much chicken feed. The vast majority of those working with the government are on contracts, which gives them no social insurance and no rights whatsoever. That’s the way around it. So when a job comes up, paid with whatever benefits there are, it’s no joke. And a job came up with my name on it. There was just one problem. I hadn’t done my internship in Sudan, and I hadn’t been paid anything by the government before, and so I couldn’t enter the system from the 9th grade which is the entry point. I had to start from scratch, which I hadn’t. National service is a separate entity and having bypassed the ministry to get to it, it was like I hadn’t worked at all. According to the records of the ministry of health, I didn’t exist in the system. Yaaa jama3a, keif alkalam da?
Kida bas.
To be continued.