Several weeks ago I was very impressed with the US Embassy. A local pastor who runs a school for orphans had applied for a grant from the Embassy and was invited to go to Maputo to present his proposal. One of my colleagues paid for his bus fare down there, but this pastor was hesitant about going. He had been told that he would be provided with accommodation and return fare as long as he could get himself to Maputo. But he had been told this by other organizations in the past and had been left with nothing. In a corrupt society, one learns never to trust any promises. We assured him that the Embassy would be different. Indeed it was.
When the pastor returned on a bus paid for as promised, he was excited to inform us that he will receive a grant. More than that, when he arrived in Maputo, he called a contact at the Embassy who picked him up within ten minutes and brought him to the nicest hotel in the city. The pastor is a man who lives in a two-room cinder block house with nine people and no running water or electricity. He was shocked that everything he had been told was followed up on. And indeed he will receive his grant.
I was left thinking that my country can be pretty great sometimes.
And then there are times that I slap my forehead and shake my head…
Last week I sent my passport by DHL to the Embassy to get new pages put in. I had to call them to make sure it had arrived and the pages had been inserted so that I could go back to DHL to pay for it to be returned. I called twice, on two different days, both during consular service hours only to be told that the consul had already left or hadn’t arrived yet. That seemed typically Mozambican, not American. Later one of the consular officers, a Mozambican man, called me. It was a somewhat difficult conversation as he didn’t speak the clearest English. He called to say I had missed something on my application. He said I didn’t put the state in which I was born. He said, “You only put Bahrain, not the state. What state is Bahrain in?” I said, “Bahrain is a country. It’s near Saudi Arabia.” He said, “Oh, it’s not a place in America?” Why is someone allowed to work in an embassy who doesn’t know that Bahrain is a country?