Baby, It’s Cold Outside

March 8th, 2010

An incidental piece, since I haven’t written for a few days.

As you may or may not have noticed, something bad happened to the blog last week. My whole site was the victim of a hacking attack, which was quite possibly the inevitable consequence of using the internet from a Third World country, where, despite the rudimentary state of IT in general, there always seems to an abundance of people willing to waste their time hacking into other people’s systems, just to cause damage and misery.

So, sorry for those of you that had to see all that. As soon as I found out what had happened, I managed to delete the relevant parts, but was unable to restore my pages until I returned home on Saturday.
Where it is very cold. Read more »

Ramble On

March 3rd, 2010

It’s strange being back in Juba without a distinct purpose. Everything’s the same here.. I’m staying in the same room, the weather is still unbearably hot (although not as hot as 2 or 3 weeks ago), the local shops are still plying their trades to the same people, the same lizards are still running around inside the compound, and the food still contains sand and dust. As does everything, actually. Unless you keep something hermetically sealed, it will end up covered in a fine layer of sandy dust in no time at all.

However, the fact that we are On Our Way Home is glaringly obvious, if only psychologically. Juba is far from a holiday destination, so that’s a mindset you never fall into. There are “things to do” in the evening, but they are prohibitively expensive, and there are curfews to consider. You also have to take into account that if you do go out to the usual places, you will probably be surrounded by the same ex-pats getting drunk every night in a vain attempt to achieve some state of homeland normality. Read more »

Culture Shift

March 2nd, 2010

Well, we’re back in Juba, courtesy of a WFP flight, which was a comfortable 45 minute jaunt, compared to the 8 hour endurance olympics we unwittingly participated in on the way to Rumbek.

Not to say that the trip didn’t have elements of the strange about it. As luck would have it, our plane arrived at the same time as (war criminal) President Bashir was paying his annual visit, this time with electioneering in mind. Due to the heightened levels of security, we had to be transported by minibus away from the plane, as random civilians wandering across the runway were likely to be shot. Read more »

Video : Singing and Jumping About

February 28th, 2010

Plagued by Too Much Work, and Power Cuts, I haven’t been back here as much as I’d like, and tomorrow morning we’re hitching a lift on a plane to take us back to Juba. With still more work to get done today, this is probably the last thing I’ll write from Rumbek, which is a shame, because I still have a veritable cornucopia of thoughts and experiences to scatter all over the screen.

So… for the moment, I shall leave you with a couple of other squished video files, one of which has incredibly bad cameramanship, which should be seen for that aspect alone..  ;)


Click to Download/Play Video

Video #1 : Impromptu singing and dancing at the farm.


Click to Download/Play Video

Video #2 : The second batch of ladies arriving at Thursday’s workshop at the farm.

See you in Juba…  :)

Visions of Peace

February 26th, 2010

It’s fast approaching the time when we’ll have to leave Rumbek, and some things are perhaps overdue for a mention. Much of the work we have been doing here, is directly linked to WfWI’s Join Me On The Bridge event, which will be held on International Women’s Day, on March the 8th 2010.

Over the past couple of days, Jolien was asked to run workshops for the women of the farm, and the women in the nearby town of Barpakeny. Both successful and enlightening, it was encouraging to hear everyone’s hopes for the future, particularly that of peace in the region, and how they could work together to achieve that. Starting off with the little things in their day-to-day lives, and moving onto wider ranging issues. From little acorns, mighty oaks do indeed grow.

….and there are a lot of acorns here.

Some of the women of Barpakeny

Conversely, on the road, there are an increasing number of army vehicles heading towards Rumbek. This is part of a decommissioning initiative by the government, the plan being to disarm civilians. Read more »

Of Conflict and Reconstruction

February 24th, 2010

Looking at Rumbek now, it’s hard to see, let alone believe, what it once was.

It’s a sprawling, disjointed town, littered with loosely defined compounds of huts, which are for the most part made of wood, cane, mud, and straw. In the centre of the town, lie the two markets, which to all intents and purposes form the shopping centre for an ever growing community.  Although some of the buildings are brick and concrete, however, there are no structures present with more than a ground floor. There may be taller buildings, churches and mosques being a prime example, but none of them feature inhabitable space on a second floor. The skyline is as flat as the surrounding terrain.


Rumbek Centre

The roads are wide and characteristically dusty. Due to the layer of dust and sand, you can never tell what kind of surface you will be driving on from one moment to the next.

It wasn’t always like this. Read more »

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

February 24th, 2010

….and frankly, this is going to save me a heck of a lot of typing.

After a gruelling day out in the sun and heat, I’m finding my motivation to contribute to my blog diminishing with each passing day. However(!), I know from the stats that some people are peeking religiously at the pages here every day or two, and I don’t want to let anyone down!

If I fail to contribute sufficiently for a day, then I end up lagging behind, which means an ever growing task, which, just like the warning, will loom larger than it might actually appear in the wing mirror.

So, I was thinking that I might skim a little of the good looking stuff off the top of the last two days’ batch, and unleash a hand-picked selection of photos loose on the world. Hand-picked, that is, in “It’s a Knockout” style, with blindfolds and comedic large foam digits.

Weaver Ants!

I’ve become quite fond of the Weaver Ant colonies on the campsite. They don’t bother us, and are absolutely fascinating to watch. I’ve seen them guard routes, communicate with each other, redeploy the smaller worker ants to the areas in which they are needed, and make a nest (pictured). They do this by making a chain of ants with which to pull the edges of the leaves together, which they then seal together. This is performed until a number of leaves finally form an enclosed nest. Incredible stuff!

Morning Tea

On the way to the farm one morning, we had to do some business in one of the nearby compounds. We were lucky enough to catch one of the local goats enjoying a nice cup of Earl Grey. Read more »

Let’s Off-Road!

February 22nd, 2010

The weekend was somewhat slow.

Sunday especially. When you’re confined to the compound, there are only a number of things that you can do. You can use the computers (which are slow, and get boring after a while), sit outside in the sun (which is too hot to sit in), sleep (in a climate in which it is too hot to sleep during the day), or hang around the bar, which usually involves spending money… which I haven’t got. So you can see how boredom might kick in rather quickly.

It was nice for Monday to swing back around again, and get back into the usual routine, which involved going to the farm. Not as easy as it sounds in this instance, as we pulled a flat almost half-way there. As luck would have it, the spare was flat. See? Most countries have a vehicle road worthiness check for a reason.

Getting A Signal - A Masterclass

Calls for help were made, using the theory that the more mobile phones you are using, the more networks you are connecting to, and the higher you are, the better your chance of receiving a signal. Thankfully, one of the phones worked, and after a short hour or so in the blazing sun, we were back on our way to the farm, in the backup vehicle. Read more »


February 21st, 2010

If you’re at all interested in the politics of Sudan, then you’re no doubt aware that the first free elections are coming up in April 2010, the results of which, no matter the result, will have serious ramifications for the people of Southern Sudan, and the possibility of planting the foundations for the secession referendum further down the line.

With emotions running high in the run-up to the election, there are always likely to be flashpoints, and with vigorous campaigning in Rumbek yesterday, violence was not unexpected.

The day started relatively harmlessly enough, with campaign vehicles on the road, broadcasting their messages of support, singing, and dancing. The party atmosphere turned sour in the evening, however, when violence broke out in the middle of the town. Shots were exchanged, leaving five people dead, and a number wounded. Read more »

Caturday Cache

February 20th, 2010

A good day for posting!

Today’s catch-up already includes two posts, with photos and a video. Something I never would have dreamed possible, given our recent paltry internet capabilities. The weekend, it would appear, is the best time to work.

Although photographs here are fairly sparse, for those of you who haven’t come from that particular direction, I am uploading a larger number onto my Facebook account. Please do feel free to add me should you be at all interested.

You will be searching for the following goatee’d individual (enjoying breakfast in the compound); Read more »