Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I am the master of my infinite patience

This is my new mantra. I repeat it in my head while breathing deeply. (I feel like the guy in Fight Club who is reading books that describe the experience of organs in the first person for some reason. "I am Jack's raging bile duct" "I am Kate's racing heart and urge to yell at someone") I started saying it when I would fight with the internet here. It's a satellite so if it's rainy or windy, no internet. It's the rainy season. I play a lot of solitaire and remind myself to be patient. Then yesterday we drove through the thickest bushes and deepest muddy puddles you can imagine for at least 1.5 hours to get to Kombi to survey their kids. The school was entirely empty. There weren't more than 10 people in the whole town. The tukuls that make up the health center (that we fund and pay 3 staff members) were padlocked shut. No survey. But it was okay, because we did get to survey Kulu which was on the way back. Skip to today. We drove to Mayewe. Long drive. Hot day. No kids. Again. Apparently the teachers had gone to Mvolo (where we had just come from) to collect their salaries, so the school was closed. Deep breath. Patience. Drive home. Spend limited survey funds to pay per diem, but get no work done. News from Mvolo and MOEST (Ministry of Education, Science and Technology): Some teachers have gone home. Some have not. Unlikely they'll reopen the schools this week. Two weeks of vacation to follow. I have about 4.5 weeks left in Southern Sudan. So the next two and half weeks not used for the survey is a pretty intense setback. Luckily the next county over, Wulu, is finishing their vacation this week, so hopefully we can survey them while we wait for Mvolo to come back. Deep breath. So now I've got some time to work on data entry, finishing up the revision on the School Health and Nutrition curriculum I've been working on. It'll also be nice to not squish 13 people (!) into a Land Rover for hours on end. But after a visit from the country director earlier this week I've got my plans set for the final weeks, ironed out what my deliverables are etc. And although I'm only technically half way through my three months that I'll be gone (two weeks of vacation after my work is done!), it feels like the summer is beginning to come to a close. Every day that the country director was here, he asked me what I'd learned that day, and there was always something new to tell him. The new type of disease presentation, new explanations for why there is so much fear/hatred for the Dinka in this area, new ways that bug bits can swell up and hurt/bruise/bleed! All sorts of mind boggling things. More pictures are coming, check out the ones that are there now at if you haven't seen them yet. More soon.

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