Published: February 2nd 2011February 2nd 2011
Hello to all my friends. I am already on my next mission, this time as hospital manager in Amman, Jordan. But I wanted to catch you up with my work on the last mission in Southern Sudan. I was there for 6 months and it was a great experience. This will be in multiple installments, beginning this blog with my daily life. I hope you enjoy it - here it comes:
It’s 6:30 and I may as well get up. I didn’t get much sleep…. again. There’s so much noise at night. The packs of dogs that roam the street and every other dog in the city bark at various times, and when one starts to howl, they all join in. And the donkeys bray. And a time-challenged rooster starts to crow at 3:30, and most of the rest join in between 4:30 and 5, long before sunrise. Between 5:40 and 6 am the muezzin from 2 different mosques seem to compete as they call the Muslim faithful to prayers. And at 6 there’s the clip-clop and squeaking of the horse-drawn carts going by on the street next to the compound. Not to mention waking up 2 or 3 times
in the night drenched in sweat. It’s May and the rains haven’t started yet. Daytime temperatures are 104º to 110º F (40º - 45º C) and the low at night is in the 80’s (26º - 30ºC) outside – it’s even hotter inside my tukul
are similar to local houses with mud bricks and thatched roof, though the local ones are round and ours are square). They turn off the generator at 11 pm and don’t turn it on again until 8 am, so there’s no fan at night. During the rainy season I’ve had a daily early morning visit from a frog. He hops in the door between 5:30 and 6:00, hops around the periphery of the room and hops out again.
I go for a shower – we have piped water inside a structure with plastic sheeting on the walls. There’s no roof, so it’s lovely to shower at night and see all the stars. No light pollution, so you can see thousands and thousands of them. I take a ‘Navy shower’ to conserve water, a precious resource here. I get wet, turn off the water, soap and scrub then a quick rinse. I
take my plastic wash basin with me every day and collect the water from the shower. I use it to water the plants in my ‘bucket gardens’. I am raising tomatoes (never did get any), a variety of sweet and chili peppers (the chili peppers did the best), and a 3rd bucket with herbs – basil, parsley, chives (a non-starter), dill, coriander. Basil seems the happiest in this hot climate.
Around 7:30 I go to have breakfast with my colleagues. I live in the MSF compound with 17 other expatriates – doctors, nurses, midwives, a pharmacist, logisticians, administrator, project coordinator and an architect for our construction project. They’re from all over the world – at various times we had representatives from the US, Canada, Nicaragua, France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Italy, Nepal, China, Japan, the Philippines, Guinea, Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, Australia and New Zealand. Breakfast every day is a local bread called chapati, a round bread something like pita bread but slightly thicker. We usually have eggs - either boiled or fried - and always can choose peanut butter, Nutella, honey or jam.
Lunch and dinner usually include rice, pasta and
potatoes, either lentils or beans, maybe spinach or
cabbage, some kind of meat and a fresh vegetable, either chopped tomatoes or local very crispy cucumber, or shredded carrots. Because the work week is 6 days and often 10 - 12 hours a day, we have cooks for all 3 meals every day. Sunday afternoons or evenings, one or more of us often prepare a special dish.
There are more photos below