Kapoeta, however, was an unknown even for our pilot. Greg, an Episcopalian minister from Tennessee met us at the airstrip with a hired car to take ONE of us to the immigration office. But there was another self-appointed guy with a hand-printed letter stating that we had to pay him a $50 fee, though he seemed to have no official status. The pilot refused. We elected to use Greg – though he had expected us earlier and now the car fee was for a half day – $100. I rode with Greg and the driver through the main marketplace, a dusty rusty place of shacks and signs, busy with men strolling, and groups of bare-breasted or loosely-covered women and girls carrying water and other supplies on their heads.
At the office, the driver parked, and Greg went in. Then the driver left the car as well. It’s a good thing I don’t scare easily. I don’t think Greg expected the driver to leave me alone. Fifteen minutes later I had the stamped passports and we were on our way back to the plane the 100 minute flight to Duk Payuel.
The Duk airstrip was crowded, but what stood out was the group of thirty-one girls in bright red uniforms – the ASAH girls. I learned later they expected us two hours earlier and had waited the whole time in the afternoon heat. Also meeting us were many of our clinic friends and lots of people from the community. We had 23 students when I left in February – now there are eight new faces and names to learn, and we are planning to add three more sttudents during our visit.
Kris Schmitz and Daniel Pisegna from JDF had driven the girls to the airstrip in the clinic vehicle, and they ferried us back as well. It’s a good 20-minute walk. Rides are not always available, but are welcome. Kris and Daniel hung around to chat while another driver ferried our cargo – saving the backs and necks of our students and others in the community who carry these heavy loads long distances on their heads.
Two of our students had questions for me right away – Elizabeth Akuol, who is sponsored by my best friend, Jane Fercho Ludlow, from the time I was a toddler asked, “Where is Jane?” And Tabitha (pronounced Tabeesa) whose identical twin sister, Adit, is one of our new students – said “Cynthia” (Baumgardner) “is sponsoring my sister, Adit.”
We settled into our living quarters – me and my daughter Vika in our matron Daruka’s tukul. Jessica and Keiko in our program director Manyok’s tukul. Rygo in one of the large camping tents I brought on this trip. And we set up another one for Leek Sam, our principal who has been living in a tent since March 2012. It withstood a six-month rainy season, and survived a recent windstorm, but was showing its age.
Empowering Orphaned Girls
- What Alarm? (asahinsudan.wordpress.com)