Undies–Big and Small

Sunday, December 11

After church, the women came to the church office compound where we had set up to distribute panties and pads. I often distribute through the school, but last week was exam week, and now school is out until February. An announcement was made at church, and the crowd that arrived was mostly mothers and smaller children, but very few teenage girls—our target population. We will distribute theirs when school reopens.

The panties distribution can easily deteriorate into a mad grab, so I asked Rhoda, a former teacher who speaks English and works with our program, to line the children up by size and age. Lillian, the clinic midwife, helped me hand them out. The little children came first—both boys and girls and babes in arms left with four pairs of panties each. A few teenage girls showed up, and then came the mothers. Thinking that South Sudan teens resemble American teens, our donors often donate women’s sizes. The teens here are very tall, but thin as rails. Still, the underwear is welcomed by adult women, too.

Things started hopping before dinner when John Dau, who started the JDF Foundation Lost Boys Clinic here in Duk, arrived with a group that included Michelle, a filmmaker who will be with him until the end of January, documenting the peace initiative which he is here for, and the cataract surgeries which will begin in a few days when the eye surgeons arrive from the US. Also in the entourage were armed policemen. Nine people in a Land Cruiser plus baggage and weapons. Due to the bad roads, what might have been a five-hour drive took two days from Bor to Duk.

The arrival of special visitors means meat and potatoes along with the traditional beans and rice for dinner. They didn’t know, however, that we’d been treated to fried fish at lunch. The fish is mudfish, which I usually disdain as it is stewed and rank—I’m not sure if it’s rotten or what, but the whole dining room stinks to high heaven. This fish was fresh and pretty tasty with lots of tiny bones. The initiated were able to peel the flesh back and leave the skeleton behind. I wasn’t so skilled.

Michelle brought a two-person tent donated to her by Marmot, who is a sponsor for her film project. Moses was gracious enough to agree to sleep there, and Michelle moved into my tent. I don’t know how she would have managed in that tiny tent. She has a huge amount of film gear. It would certainly have been more difficult for her to manage, and I’m enjoying the female companionship.

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