Juba and Bor, Southern Sudan

March 21-24, 2011

On Monday the 21st, we flew to Juba, the capitol of Southern Sudan, without a visa for Jef. A friendly Jetlink agent helped us to find a contact to expedite our visa, only to learn that the only individual who issues visas had been out sick for a week and no one knew when he was expected back. Joseph Akol Makeer arranged for a GOSS representative to meet us at the airport in Juba to help Jef through customs there. My visa was still valid since my November visit.

Joseph, Kenneth Masunga, Jef Foss and I had dinner at the Oasis—a paradise-type restaurant on the Nile specializing in Indian food. Delicious Naan. We stayed at the Olympic hotel for $100 a night—wireless Internet in the rooms, toilet and cold shower, plus breakfast. When Jef and Ron Saeger were here two years ago, they spent $200 a night for a tent with no amenities.

The next morning we left with Joseph for Bor, the capitol of Jonglei State. Joseph is working for GOSS in a public relations and communications arena—a group of about 75 Lost Boys and girls from across Southern Sudan who have returned from the US, Australia, and other countries to help their homeland.

Our goal was to meet with NGOs who might provide aid for our boarding project for orphans in Duk Payuel. Our first visit, to UNHCR, resulted in a tip about an interagency meeting taking place the next morning at the governor’s office.

Our hotel in Bor, the Freedom Hotel, offered three meals a day plus slow and sometimes offline Internet in the restaurant—which was always packed with NGO folks and computers. Talking on Skype to my husband, we were interrupted by various groups—he said, “This place must be some kind of NGO heaven.”We met a couple guys from Platteville Wisconsin who were hoping to build a school near Bor. Some of the IRD (International Relief Development) team from Duk Payuel were also there, and we made plans to caravan with them to the village the following day.

Wednesday, the 23rd, we stopped at World Food Programme and learned how we might qualify for food aid for our program—which requires fairly permanent buildings and other amenities in place—kitchen, latrines, etc. Each person we met along the way gave us suggestions about what other groups might lend us a hand through aid or guidance of some type.

From there we headed to the inter-agency meeting, only to have the car break down a few “blocks” from a garage. Joseph caught a ride on a passing motorbike and several guys from the garage came to push the car with me steering. We left the car and a garage employee took us to the meeting. We were now 45 minutes late, but being that “This is Africa,” the meeting didn’t start until the governor, Kuol Manyang, arrived, 15 minutes after we did. There were about 30 people, including us, seated at long tables. Each seat had a mic, a water, and a soda. Joseph sat in the back with other visitors. The meeting lasted about 2 ½ hours with the ministers of each department in the state reporting on everything from health, to education, to cattle raiding, to physical infrastructure, and more. At the end, Joseph stood and introduced Jef and me. I was pleased to be able to tell the group about ASAH and to tell the governor that his daughter and her husband, who live in Fargo, were friends of mine. We made several contacts at this meeting who will be helpful to us in the future.

The day was long, and we made plans to leave for Duk at 7 the next morning in the caravan. But This is Africa. IRD (International Relief Development) had some shopping to do at the market (fresh vegetables, which they treated us to later that evening) and said to meet them on the main street around 9. Somehow, our driver decided NOT to drive to Duk Payuel, so IRD went on alone, and we headed out with Joseph and a new driver later that morning. Gabche, a Kenyan with IRD, gave us one of their SAT phones to carry in case of problems. What kind of problems? Well, in a three hour period on a recently built but still very rough road, we passed a couple of burned out vehicles, stopped to help a stalled vehicle get started, and passed two lorries going our way. That’s it. For those of you who know I had cervical disk surgery recently—I held on to the dash handle, wore my soft collar, and sat in the front seat while Jef and Joseph bounced around the bench seats in back of the Land Cruiser. What made the road travel worth every bump were the thousands of antelope—Kob and Topi, we passed on our way, plus ostriches to boot. You can find pics on our Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/African-Soul-American-Heart/48997754057

Joseph left us off at the Lost Boys Clinic in Duk. We set up a camping tent for Jef near the containers where the ground was smooth. I’m staying in the tent of the project manager, Tom Dannon, tent as he is gone to Juba for procurement with the clinic manager, Joh Deng. Tom has offered to stay in my camping tent upon his return and let me remain in his tent which has actual beds. A true gentleman.

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