Happy Belated 4th, Happy Birthday Vika!

Tuesday, July 5

Because I am catching up on the blogs for Sunday and Monday and Tuesday on Wednesday, I forgot to mention HAPPY 4th of JULY with my earlier post. Tuesday there were a lot of celebrations in the village. We heard guns popping all day long, which made a lot of people here uneasy.

Wednesday July 6—Happy Birthday to my daughter Vika

Though I will not be with my family in Fargo today, celebrating my daughter Vika’s 25th at a Japanese restaurant, I will be with her in spirit. I called her on Skype, but the connection was terrible, and we each managed only a few words.

I had a run/walk early this morning. Running on the dry portions of the road, and stepping off to navigating the clumps of grass when the road was covered with ankle-deep water. Even so, I ended up soaking my tennis shoes. The grass here grows like crazy. In days, grass that reached our calves, is now waist-high in places. In the clinic yard, they hack at the grass with “slashers”—long, flat pieces of metal with a bend about four inches from the rounded tip.

Angie and Gina and I walked to IRD and confirmed that the pickup truck they’ve hired for the next ten days will be able to bring us sand for concrete blocks for the bathrooms and showers, and retrieve our short poles from the bush so we can finish the last two tukuls. We’re still waiting for the plumbing and electrical materials as well. No news on that.

Then we headed into the central village area. This is where yesterday’s gunshots must have come from. We passed dozens of men carrying weapons. I’ve gotten a couple different stories, but the closest I can tell is that they’re Nuer tribesmen whose cattle are in Poktop, where they had been taken to graze since there was no water in their area, which I think is near Pajut. Now that it’s raining in their home village., they’re looking for an escort to get their cattle safely to their village, due to the incidents with Murle that have taken place in the county. UNMIS stopped by in their helicopter again, and it may be they will provide assistance. Anyhow, it’s hard to get the full story.

This afternoon, the ten girls who will be in our program arrived at the clinic compound for our first introductory meeting. Gina and Angie prepared lesson plans with name games, songs, some reading, and ending with musical chairs and biscuits for treats. Midway through, an 11th girl arrived. There was a mixup. We’d met her grandmother, but the girl hadn’t been confirmed for the program. But we couldn’t send her away, so we’ll squeeze her in somehow.

There was a lot of smiles and laughter. The ice is broken, and we’re getting a feel for their abilities. We plan to have them over every weekday until it’s time for us to leave.

Two more orphan girls came by later on. They’re on the list. I hope our donors will help us expand this program during the next dry season. The need is great, the community is supportive, and the girls are hungry for the chance to learn.

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