Thursday, July 31, 2008


No really. During a break at the health forum I attended today I was told to search for a google group called Jubalicious. At least people here have a sense of humor!

So I made it to Juba after an eventful time in Rumbek. Wednesday was a holiday that marked the 3rd anniversary of the death of John Garang, the former leader of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army/Movement (which is now in power in South Sudan). I went out to a spot close by with people from work since we technically had Wednesday off and the subject of what I've learned here came up. I told them that I have to make a presentation when I get back to school and one of the things I have to talk about are big lessons learned. Several drinks into the day off from work celebration the members of my and several other NGOs came up with the following three things I should have learned: 1. Never offer to help. Everyone in these situations is understaffed and under-resourced, so offering to help can get you in a whole lot of trouble. Prime example: one staff member told of his first job where he heard someone saying they were overwhelmed and he offered to help. They asked whether he knew how to move refugees. He said sure. He ended up directing an armored convoy through an active war zone to load, register and then deliver refugees to a refugee camp. Yes, he helped. No, he should never have been allowed to lead such a dangerous activity. 2. Always bullshit. This came up when I told them that when I arrived at the airport in Rumbek I wasn't registered to be on the flight. The operator told me that it was possible that someone had emailed him, instructing him to "greenlight" me and put me on the flight, but his email was down. I explained that I was sure that was the case and I absolutely needed to be on this flight. So me, and my two super heavy bags (the limit is 1 bag at 15 kilos) got on the flight without paying for a ticket or for my extra weight or bag :) 3. Always assume things will go wrong, as opposed to assuming things will go right. This is completely contrary to my nature, I'm an optimist and like to believe that things have a way of working out. But here it's best to plan so that, even if it all goes to hell in a hand basket, you can still do what you need to do. I was told this when I asked a staff member if she thought it was a good idea for me to be booked on a flight from Juba that would arrive in Nairobi at 2pm the same day as my 6pm flight to Dubai. Generally that would be fine, international flights tend to be more reliable than domestic flights (which almost never leave on time, if they leave at all). But, as she explained, my organization will fly me in a day early, pay for a hotel and a cab to and from the airport, so the hassle is theirs. Whereas if I miss my flight to Dubai it becomes my problem. So on that note I have 12 more days left in Juba, rather than 13. I must be learning.

Also there are new pictures up if you're curious:

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