After almost 11 months to the day that I arrived in Sri Lanka, the mental health media unit at the hospital where I work was officially opened. It’s a beautiful new building with fresh paint, a new fan, a computer, a printer and three desks (not sure why we need three?). Everything you need to operate a media relations department.
Outside of finding the key to unlock the door (which I did after a few days), the only thing left to do is find that elusive Sri Lankan to work with me in the unit and take over once I leave next year. So far the search has turned up empty, but there is optimism that someone will be found.
Because, while I have the best of intentions and ideas, it’s clear that only a Sri Lankan will bring this unit to the level that it needs to be. While I’m happy with my work and relationship building in the English media, my inability to write and work in Sinhala and Tamil means that I’m just scraping the surface. Not to mention that my writing has been said to be ‘too polite’ and not rude enough for Sri Lanka? Haha…I can get rude if they want?
Patience is the key as slowly, slowly we build something sustainable. My guess is I’ll find out about who my successor will be the same way I found out about the media unit opening:
Me answering my phone at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night: Hello.
Hospital Director: Hello? (in a hushed tone)
Me: Hi Dr. Mendis. How are you?
Hospital Director: Hello?
Me: Yes Dr. Mendis. This is Shaun. Hello.
Hospital Director: Yes, we are opening the media unit tomorrow.
Me: We are? Okay. Where is it?
Hospital Director: The new building.
Me: Okay. (Thinking: The building that was still in shambles when I left today?)
Hospital Director: You can say a few words, okay?
Me: Sure, no problem.
Hospital Director: Okay, okay…come early (click)
That was it. The ribbon was cut the next day as the paint was still drying. That’s how it’s done here. Good times.