Pay your bills

“The telephone you dialed is outside the coverage area” familiar line isn’t it? Somaliland telephone companies recently installed automated recording of this sort. I’ve been told about so many stories regarding this.

One man called his friend, he heard a male voice saying “the number you dialled is busy”. Surprised, the man angrily argued and said “No that’s not possible! he asked me to call him!” he went on and on and on arguing his case, the recording did the same and repeatedly said “I’m sorry the telephone you dialled is busy.” He turned off the phone and promised never to call his friend again.

Usually phone companies hire people with nice sounding voices to do the recording. One outfit got a male one to say “I’m sorry the number you dialled is outside the coverage area” (said in Somali of course). Everything was fine, but the man’s voice is just so rough and loud that you’ll wonder if he’s challenging you for a fistfight every time he says waxan qahumahay! (sorry) Everytime I hear his message I often hand over my phone to my Somali friends and ask”why is he so angry?”, they’d all laugh.

The clincher is the latest addition, the message: “The number you dialled has been disconnected due to unpaid bills”.

It happened to me, Ahmed called my mobile and asked “Yvette why didn’t you pay your bill, I called your landline” Well one, ICD pay its bills on time, second it wasn’t even disconnected because I was online when Ahmed made the call.

Children fight because of this message, they’d tease other children and say “your father did not pay your bills! Phone subscribers already filed complaints because of the ridicule they get from friends and relatives.

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Somaliland Postal Service

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We passed by this old structure yesterday, obviously a remnant of the past. Unfortunately my Somali friends did not have much information about this building apart from it was as the sign says the Town Post Office.

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There is no government owned postal services, not yet at least, people use Dahabshiil where they have their PO boxes and for those who can afford there is always DHL that has an Hargeisa office for express delivery.

Speaking Up

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We have been quite busy lately. We had Nick, our communications officer from London, we brought him to our various projects and introduced him to our partners. He oriented us on the organization’s communications strategy and taught us how to take good pictures. We returned his good deeds by bringing him to (where else?) camel meat restaurant.

Communications is definitely significant, specially for a country like Somaliland. People around the world need to know about what is happening in this country. For people in the area of communications, Somaliland is a prime place for stories and images.

Nowadays, information is power. Somalilanders have a lot to offer to the world. The dynamism of the people in keeping peace and reconstructing this country are things that should be narrated. Their struggle for survival is something that should be commended, but how can this be done if it is not written, if it remains hidden.

We work with local non-government organization, teaching them the requisites of information management or simply writing stories can do wonders not only to the organization but more importantly to the communities.

Resource is scarce here in Somaliland. We always make do with what we have. For local NGOs and the government, information, skills and financial support can go a long way to boost this country.

As development workers involved in the Skillshare program, our time is limited. Given the scope of work needed, we can only do so much.

Safe

Our phoneline is disconnected, not because of the war, its just a simple problem with Telesom Company. That’s why I haven’t had the chance to update my blog it’s definitely NOT about Bush Abdusalam 😉
We are having daily security briefings and have laid out our security plan, no we will not evacuate, these are precautionary measures.
The international community here in Somaliland feel perfectly safe here in Hargeisa. The September 11 case taught everyone a lesson, don’t panic. In a meeting where expats were asked to book for the ECHO flight, the EU carrier that would bring us out of the country, nobody raised their hands. Some nationalities got instructions from their embassies to leave Somaliland, again, no one is moving.

It is a general knowledge that inter-clan fighting is more dangerous. We have faith that peace will prevail in this country whose people are so tired of conflict and hostilities. The worst fear of everyone is food and fuel scarcity because the country is heavily dependent on imports.
To my family and friends be assured that everything is ok and that together with the Filipino community here I remain safe.