Friday, August 15, 2008

a trip to immigration

Finally leave for town about 10:AM after tweaking no less than 5 documents regarding our organization, my job description and the scope of our work.

Find parking

Walk a few blocks to Nyayo House (the terra cotta colored sky scraper in the front of most shots of downtown Nairobi). For expediency of moving people through the gazillions of floors in this building the elevator only stops on select floors. (At least I think that’s why.)

Take the elevator to the 6th Floor walk down a flight to Mr Kinanjui’s office on 5th Floor. (Tracy had got his contact from someone as a good person to see regarding our permit challenges.)

Explain and enquire as to what to do in our situation. Mr K gives us a few ideas of options to pursue, but are told we should really ask the man who is the chairman of the committee that decides these things. And since this is the day the committee meets, he’s not available today. “Come back tomorrow.” (James, the man from the Baptist Mission who deals with their immigration issues meets us in this office. – Thank God for cell phones.)

We also ask about extending my visitor’s visa to pursue this appeal. Mr K sends us to 7th Floor to see someone who can help us. We talk to the two flights.

The classy young woman writes on a post-it note and sends up down to the main level to window number 4 to get what we need.

James grabs a form from window #6 and window #4. One is for visa extension and one is for an alien’s card. As we look at the forms we realize I need 2 passport photos.

We leave Nyayo House and trek up the street to find an instant passport photo place. (I wasn’t exactly photo ready – but at least I had some lipstick along I could put on. And never mind I have an assortment of passport photos at home, if I had only known.)

Ten minutes later we are back to Nyayo House filling out the forms and handing them in at window #6 with photos, passport and some cash. James gets a little friendly hassle from the woman at the counter because one of the forms should be handed in at another window. But she will take it down there.
Wait. (Tracy meets a Somali man that lives in the Twin Cities.)

After a short while one form is ready for something. We are to go and get my fingers prints taken. I trail along behind James to sit on some benches outside an office where I will get printed. I observe a poster outside the open office door saying all government employees must be at work during office hours. A few more minutes go by. “What are we waiting for now, James?” “For the woman from this office to return.” I laugh and point out the poster.

But I cut the woman some slack when she arrives on crutches limping from something like a birth deformity or polio.

There she inks a pallet and roles all ten fingers through the ink, prints my thumbs twice and every other finger once each in a designated box on a form. She is happily chatting away with her friends the whole while. She breaks her conversation to direct me to the cotton wade behind here to clean my fingers. I step back outside her office to find solvent in a water bottle to help me clean my fingers.

Back out to the windows to wait for the extension and stamp in my passport.

During the whole process we are wondering if we will finish all this before the building closes for lunch.

“Janet!” James swiftly reaches the window (#7) to grab my passport for me. There is a stamp inside bearing the dates 15.11.08, and the stub from my alien’s form securing that I have temporary resident’s privileges.

I am ever so pleased to be out before 1:PM. And even more pleased not to have to leave just now. But there is plenty of work ahead.

No comments: