We follow Siân Arulanantham, Head of Programmes Co-ordination as she visits South Sudan to identify leprosy issues within the country and create a strategy for progress.
Day 1: The journey from Peterborough to Heathrow went smoothly. But at Heathrow checking in for my flight to South Sudan via Ethiopia I was told the news that my connecting flight had been changed and I would have a 6 hour wait in Addis Ababa, rather than the planned 2 hours. It was not a great start to the trip, but having lived and travelled in Africa it was a gentle reminder that I needed to put European time behind me and think TIA – This is Africa. The laws of time seem to work differently on the African continent and the more one accepts this, the less frustrating life become. After phoning loved ones to say goodbye, since I might not be able to communicate much in the next 8 days, I boarded the plane. There were no little TV screens in the back of the seat, so it was a good opportunity to have some quiet time and pray for the success of the meetings that I would be helping to facilitate in Juba.
The Leprosy Mission is just registering as an international organisation in South Sudan. When South Sudan recently separated from Sudan and became a new country all but two of our staff were no longer classed as Sudanese and were made to leave Khartoum, as they were originally from South Sudan. The Leprosy Mission therefore decided that since there was a large amount of leprosy in South Sudan we would utilise their skills by taking our work into this new country that is in desperate need. Over the next week I will be working with our two staff in South Sudan, our two staff from Sudan, TLM International and TLM Scotland (which is also a supporting partner), along with representatives from the South Sudan Government and other potential partners, to identify the leprosy issues in the country and facilitate the planning process so that our work can have the greatest impact. It’s going to be a challenging week, so I tried to doze my way through the next seven hours. Siân Arulanantham