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 3 – Work starts
I spent a rather hot and stuffy night under my mosquito net as my fan clicked off at 10.30pm due to a power shortage. Power shortages are a big issue in South Sudan as fuel has to be imported into the country. Right now there is a shortage so electricity is limited. The guest house generator can only be used for short periods of time. No power means no lighting, fan, or internet connection. Which means I’m left to rely on laptop batteries and my windup torch. It also means that once the water in the storage tank is used, there is no more water as the electric pump is needed to pump more out of the borehole. What’s more there is also no mirror in the room and I forgot to pack one, so it looks like it will be a week of bad hair days and no make-up. It’s time to adapt to a different lifestyle and ban people from taking photos of me!
I soon learnt that the electricity was back on, so laptop, camera, etc. needed to be put on to charge and I used the time to send all the emails that were sitting in my outbox, if the strength of the connection allowed. Pace of life slowed down and limited connection with the outside world meant that even text messages often did not get through.
However, learning from my colleagues in Sudan about the challenges of being a Christian working in an Islamic country soon put power shortages into context; as did learning more about life in South Sudan and the limitations of basic services like health care, education, roads and transportation. It was time to count my blessings. We had a good day discussing issues that had arisen, planning solutions and clarifying the methodologies we will use in tomorrow’s stakeholder workshop.
Then the rain came. And when it rains, does it rain! The guest house does not have a dining room, so food is served in a big tent, with holes in it. To get to the tent from the meeting room, you have to walk (or run in this case) across a muddy compound. We were soaking and eating under the drips! After a dinner of mutton (goat) and rice it was time to climb under the mosquito net with my laptop and prepare for tomorrow, that was until the battery ran out!