Published: 22/07/2004, Volume II4, No. 5915 Page 35

Helen Durby is undertaking a voluntary assignment in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia.

I have been working as a hospital management adviser for the national cancer centre in Ulaanbataar since last August. It is a one-year assignment with Voluntary Service Overseas. Before coming to Mongolia I was in project management at Lewisham Hospital.

I give training in general management and that helps with capacitybuilding. I work with people, not telling them what to do, but listening to their ideas.

The language has been a problem. Despite my efforts to learn Mongolian, I am not good enough to be able to use it at work so I have a translator.

Small things make all the difference here.We implemented an appointments system and I asked the receptionist if it was working.

She just gave me the thumbs up and a big smile; she didn't have to say anything at all.