Saturday, 27 February 2016 19:58

Obstacles to gathering basic info

In my constant pursuit of stories and the subsequent quest for substantial information, I have gone ‘full range’ this week.

I’ve spent endless hours on the phone on what ended up feeling like a wild goose chase — when really all I wanted was some very basic information. I am sure in most other countries this data is easily and publicly accessible via the internet.

At one point I seemed to have reached a dead end, when I was told I could ‘write whatever I want’.

Thankfully, my mission was eventually advanced by a call from another government employee who had taken pity on me and happily provided some of the, I shall insist, basic information I needed.

This was on Day Two of my information hunt, since on Day One I had been referred to three people who ended up ‘not being in charge’ and to another three, who were ‘not in the office that day’.

Several of the people who kept connecting me were actually very friendly, but obviously not quite sure who’d be in a position to answer my questions.

Number six in my line of official ‘informants’ had ended up still not being ‘the right one’ and had replied to my, by-now-desperate, query as to who could give me this information with an ‘Honestly, I don’t know’.

Ironically, I had arranged for a meeting, on that same exhausting Day two, with a young foreign-born mother of two.

She works full-time and has been spending every free minute she can find during the last three years on a completely non-for-profit project, gathering information on doctors for a directory she was creating with her Cypriot husband.

Her motivation? She had missed this facility she knew from back home, where basic information – such as a list of doctors and specialists – is at one’s finger tips via the internet and wanted to help other young mothers like herself to avoid the challenges she faced when pregnant with her first child.

I was so impressed by her determination and concern for others. When she brushed off my compliments with an enthusiastic “I like doing it”, a quote by a previous interviewee came to mind.

He was volunteering to contribute to the upkeep of his neighbourhood and he had said “I like doing it, but still, this is not how things should work in a community”.

It made me think – if so many of these people I get to talk to are so reluctant to be helpful, maybe they are simply in the wrong job?

Because, frankly, the hours I spend getting some in no way secret or even controversial information, makes me think, “I like doing it, but it is not how things should work in a country”.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of February 19, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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