How are you doing? I’m doing very Ok as they would say around here. I left for Africa few weeks ago, and I’m writing already (you know I’m not that good in keeping in touch, sorry for that – I’m trying to get better). For those, who I did not manage to update with the fact I’m traveling to Africa - let me update you little bit. After finishing work on the Romanian project, I took short break from my work at CEEN for couple of months and I’m currently working on a small project for a Slovak NGO – People in Peril for village of Mapuordit in South Sudan. We went for 3 months project (this is the plan – hopefully we will stick to it) to build a house with electricity and water for teachers in Mapuordit. Slovak teachers will be coming there to teach science subjects to secondary and high school kids from the surrounding. After the project work is finished I’m planning to stay in Uganda for two more weeks and do some kayaking and travel around little bit. As always, I’m taking pictures – internet here is slow, but you can have a look at some photos which I was able to upload: http://picasaweb.google.com/rusnak.jano/
Some of you asked me for more details about my trip until now so here I tried my best:
Me and Jarda (a colleague from Czech rep) flew to Nairobi – Kenya. Jarda is very good guy (also likes to take photos and likes beer, even he did quite a bit of canoeing so we get along very well). Jarda worked on humanitarian projects in Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka in the past. In Nairobi we spent couple of days because our project partner organization’s headquarters are in Nairobi and we needed to arrange some things there. This was my second visit to Nairobi, this time I got to look around some more. I was glad that we had little free time before we flew to Kampala in Uganda and visited safari, which is right outside of the city and also giraffe center (small park reserve for giraffes - there are some pictures on the http://picasaweb.google.com/rusnak.jano/GiraffeCenter/). Safari we enjoyed very much, too bad we had just half a day, since we went there on the way to the airport and we needed to catch the flight. We had a small story there with a big python. http://picasaweb.google.com/rusnak.jano/NairobiSafariPark We saw it just next to the road, took some pictures and were watching it for a while. Then we decided to continue. After some time we realized that the only way back is through the same stretch of road, so we went back. We were joking that it will be very funny if the python will be there lying across the road not allowing us to pass. We wanted to get going to exit the park to be at the airport on time. When we came back to the place, python was lying across the entire road. Sun was shining and he was heating himself nicely on the hot road. We took some more pictures, tried to talk to him nicely, but he would not move. The flight was quite important to catch but the snake did not care. I almost started to think about doing some road kill (which would be quite brutal in the National Park). Jarda the man - finally told us he knows how to deal with snakes and came closer to the snake and grabbed the end of it. I never heard such a laud noise how the python made after Jarda touched his rear end. He definitely did not like it and slowly disappeared and our road was clear again.
From Nairobi we flew to Kampala, Uganda. Met with people from BBM from Austria, with them we traveled to South Sudan a day later. This trip was to get to know the place, meet everybody, see and measure the site and organize everything needed there. We were driving little bit around Mapuordit to Rumbek and Angangrial (I uploaded some pictures to the internet from there as well http://picasaweb.google.com/rusnak.jano/KampalaPhotos ) as we were trying to get group of workers for our construction works. This was not so easy to find since all the groups were either unable to work for us (since were busy on other construction or their quality of work was not very good). At the end we found in Rumbek one group of workers from Uganda, with which we wanted to close the contract, but after some time it did not work out with them either. (At the end we hired a group from Kampala).
Let me write you little bit more about Mapuordit. Mapuordit is a small settlement in the middle of bush, which was funded by Comboni brothers in the time of long years of war between South and the North of Sudan. Since Rumbek (administrative center of this part of South Sudan) was attacked and bombed often, they decided to set up also some missions outside of Rumbek in middle of nowhere in bush. This way Mapuordit and also for example Angangrial were started. In the times of war Mapuordit was growing because it was relatively safely hidden in bush and many people found a shelter there. Diocese of Rumbek – our project partner is the only local non-governmental organization present there that runs the primary school for more than 1000 children, the secondary school for 160 students and hospital with 64 beds. In the hospital for past couple of years there are always 2-3 Slovak doctor present, which are delivering the medical health care to the local people. So now with Slovak teachers coming to teach, there will be a Slovak enclave in middle of South Sudan. The local people belong from 80 % to the tribe of Dinkas. Dinkas are mainly pastoral people; semi-nomadic shepherds relying on cattle herding at riverside camps in the dry season and growing millet in fixed settlements during the rainy season. Majority of Dinkas are illiterate and lack skills, the life in South Sudan during the war was very tough and it is still not much better. Big part of the problem is that more generations were living in war times, and were not doing their usual work, so the children could not learn it. Therefore there is almost no agriculture, lot of them are generations of refugees and are used to accepting the food. I will not go into details on this, because my email is already quite long. So, right now in Mapuordit there is the mission, then a school and the hospital. There is also small market, where people are selling some few goods (flour, drinks, cloth, some homemade bread, jerry cans and few more items). Around the market are tucols spread wide into the bush. There is one more place for sightseeing in Mapuordit – and that is the cattle camp. This is the local bank, where they keep cows – ofcourse cow is the main valuable here. Cattle camp is huge fence with lot of cows inside and some few people (mainly old people and children) living there with cows and taking care of them. It is very interesting place, unfortunately this visit we had to just pass on the way somewhere else, but I’m sure I will go back there during our stay in Mapuordit. (Photos from Mapuordit: http://picasaweb.google.com/rusnak.jano/MapuorditSSudan )
So after we met with everybody in Mapuordit and close surrounding, we went back to Kampala. We needed to buy everything in Kampala because to S. Sudan all the goods are imported either by air or trucks. You can find some construction material in Rumbek but it is double or triple price and definitely you would not be able to find everything. (We wanted to get repaired flat tire in Rumbek and were not successful because the men who usually doest these things had some family problems) I’m right now back in Kampala for more than 3 weeks. In meantime we found the group of people to work for us, they are right now on their way to Mapuordit. We hired a local architect, who did the plan for our building and some more things which we are going to be built. We did quite a lot of research on local market and local export procedures. Based on that we shrank the house couple times to fit into the budget and at the end we bought all the material for the first phase of construction and loaded on a truck and ent it off to Mapuordit. I wass very glad today when they called me they successfully passed the border to S. Sudan. Probably that half a ton of paper we arranged helped. So, this is basically where I’m right now, back in Kampala. Waiting for fabrication of windows and doors, trusses and other things needed to be fabricated and starting to arrange the rest of material for the second truck. Transport is quite expensive - our budget is enough for 2 trucks so we have to make sure we buy really everything needed for the whole construction, which is not such an easy task. The plan is that next week the truck will come back to Kampala (Kampala – Mapuordit takes truck min 4 full days on the road – it is 1100km but the roads are “little rough”) and the following week it will be loaded again and will go back with the rest of things. I will fly there afterwards. Jarda went there already yesterday to receive the material and start the construction. Hopefully the workers and the material will show up there eventually.
One more highlight of my trip – finally I got to kayak on the White Nile. Some pictures are at: http://picasaweb.google.com/rusnak.jano/HairyLemonIslandNileSpecialWave . Quite a big group of my friends (8 of them) from Bratislava came to Uganda to kayak on the Nile. One of them - Cinka was there preparing for the World championships, which are in May in Canada on Ottawa river. I’m looking forward to see his result there. I’m sure it will be very very good because what he was doing on the wave was incredible. They came in the middle of January and were there for over a month, so two weeks ago we visited them for a weekend. They brought my kayak and kayaking gear with them, so it was very nice weekend, to meet with them and kayak on the Nile Special – one of the best waves. Actually the name - Nile Special is brand of a very good beer from nearby Jinja town. It is very beautiful place – we stayed in a camp on island on Nile river - full of birds and very beautiful nature and can’t wait to come back there again after we will finish our work in Mapuordit.
So, looking forward to hear from you or see you after I come back. Best regards from Kampala,
PS: I always hated when I received emails like this on Monday morning at work – so here is little payback. J