People who haven't retired yet sometimes wonder what we find to do all day, imagining a life of quiet calm punctuated by long walks, log fires and cake. If only! Today has been spent on the 'phone, trying to sort out payments to people in The Gambia. Usually it works perfectly. A request for assistance arrives - we consider it. Do we know this person, have they been honest with us in the past, is it likely this clinic needs re-stocking, is this what that school really needs? And, of course, have we got the funds to cover the request? On Monday we managed to respond to three requests; wages for one, rice for another and help with building materials for a third. We use BAYBA as a money-transfer office, very simple, very quick, usually no longer than 24 hours to complete a transfer and same day transfers not unusual.
So it was for two of our clients. Money collected by Tuesday, just as expected. The third customer arrived at the BAYBA office in Serrekunda (very large, busy, market town - well worth a visit!) to find her application refused. Very distressed she sent me a text today to explain.the problem. I called the London office - yes, the money should be in Serrekunda. We re-checked the code number people have to give when collecting their funds; yes, that was correct. Text to client, who tried again - failed again. More calls and texts. Sometimes calls to the Gambia are clearer than calls to London. Sadly, today was not one of the clear days. Three hours of calls, texts, weeping, code numbers and, finally success. Happy client and we could breath freely again. Human error. No international fraud, just a mis-read code number. People in the BAYBA offices both here and in The Gambia have been most helpful, patient not only with a slightly deaf old man at this end but a tearful and distressed lady in the African town. Until the beginning of the year we had an excellent representative based in The Gambia who sorted these things out for us but, sadly, he has left the country.
Oh, and we've lost J's diary ... just one of those days!
If I ever find out how to post photographs from my 'phone to the blog I could illustrate this sad tale with pictures of us tearing out hair out and looking anxious ... just as well not, then!