Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Issues of Money

Money becomes such a frustrating issue here, because, as referenced in previous entries, everyone assumes you have tons OF it and unless you are SUPER AWARE of every penny that leaves your hands and every penny that is SUPPOSED to return, you end up “losing” more money than you care to think of.

Take, for example, my most recent survey of the diamond and gold mine, Bodumbe.

I sent Olivier and Richard to check the conditions of the mining camp and check for evidence of chimpanzees in the surrounding forests. And of course, also to see what the state of hunting and chimp-eating there was there.

I gave them about $30 in money for food for 2 guys for a week (trust me, here, it’s actually a lot) in addition to $8 to get some fish, and some extra money for some very specific tasks.

Instead of being gone 10 days, they were only gone 6. So today, we did a wrap-up of the expenses. They gave me a little list of things they remembered spending, but in the end, there were 3000FC (~$6) unaccounted for.

They had NO idea where it went (kongolo) so I had to deduct it from their salaries.

And it makes me feel bad, because when they’re earning a dollar a day, deducting $3 is a LOT.

Another example -- when one buys unités (prepaid cellphone minutes) in CARD form, they are 800FC for 100 units. But when they send you the minutes using your number, without a card, it only costs 700FC for 100 units.

When I gave Seba 1600FC for 200 units today, and I received the units on my phone (instead of getting 4 cards), I had to ask for the 200FC difference.

I guess the resentment comes from having to ask. Of course, 200FC is a whopping 30 cents, but shouldn’t one enforce the principle of honesty? (and CHANGE!)

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