Monday, July 31, 2006

I’ve started several times to try to describe the past few days but the words don’t come – or rather, too many words come – and so I give up and try to sleep instead. It’s been something of a blur – well, not really, more like a flood of incredibly lucid events interspersed with a thousand forgettable things that have to be done. But it is these events, or instances, that keep me awake at night wrapping and rewrapping a rosary around my hand. Trying to forget.

But it is impossible to forget. Like a helicopter ride on Saturday. It was me, a paramedic, the South African pilots, a man that had nearly been beaten to death the day before, and his mother. She was blind in one eye and stared out the window with tears dripping off her chin. I had my IPOD on under the headset. Berber’s Addagio for Strings was playing – over and over – and there is a point in the music where all that is heard is a single violin stretching a note out so perfect and beautiful that it alone could break your heart. And I looked out the window at the beautiful mountains and tried for the hundredth time that day not to cry.

Like tonight when I sat outside with all the men from the family of the driver that was beaten to death – their white robes reflecting the light of the silver crescent moon. The rain showered us with large, gloomy drops as we listened to our director convey condolences for another senseless, inhumane murder that, taken together with the thousands of others, make up this senseless, inhumane catastrophe we’re working in.

Like hearing the stories over the past few days of the rapes, the banditry, the assault, the honor killings, the shootings.

And I wonder sometimes if good is slipping out of the world. Like a glass tipped over on a table with goodness dribbling out onto the floor.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bad Day

I’ve decided to redefine my definition of a bad day. Two vehicles, four staff went to an IDP camp to do public health clubs. They go nearly everyday. However, there’s a rumor that NGOs are trying to poison children. So, the IDPs torched the vehicles, killed one driver, beat the other so badly that he’s hospitalized, and injured the other two. And if that wasn’t enough to qualify as a bad day, about 15 angry men – the family of the dead man and not very happy - later showed up at my door. UNDSS sent a patrol, GoS sent a patrol. It was just a tense, sad, and generally exhausting day.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A photo essay on the occasion of my birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. It also happened to be the birthday of one of the only other expats with whom I work. In light of this, the President decided to visit Nyala and declared it a holiday. We were flattered, of course, no one has ever declared a holiday for us but then was a bit put out when he didn’t even have the courtesy to drop by. When he declared it a national holiday he added the caveat that if NGO’s determined to continue working then they would be considered in direct defiance to his orders. (That seemed a little odd to me considering that humanitarian organizations are feeding people, providing medical care, education, protection, etc. but now is not the time to quibble). So,finding myself with a day off I decided to chronicle all of the lovely events that made up the day and you’ll find those below:

A card from Fernandez...

I received a lovely Sudanese purse from Ashley...

Also a box made out of WFP food tins so my books don't get dusty...

My new laptop arrived from Khartoum...

Along with some cards from Khartoum and Ed Daein...


The President even sent some gunships...

Then to out to dinner...

Back to the house for specially imported carrot cake...mmmm....

All in all, a great day!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

World Cup

So, Italy won the World Cup. This made me very happy. It made me very happy because I was supporting them (at the time) and because they beat France. It takes very little to make me happy these days. Unfortunately, they won on penalties which means that the game drug on and on far past our organization’s curfew, the UN curfew, and even the town curfew. This was bad. However, the situation was compounded by the fact that we didn’t have a car and that it rained – and I’m talking bucket-drenching downpour, not your normal rain – for about two hours during the game. It didn’t bother me that the room we were sitting in was slowly flooding or that there was a constant drip on the television. What was slightly alarming, however, was hiking home that night, after curfew, through calf-deep sewage water that clogged the streets. Seriously, there are some things you can live your whole life without doing and walking through sewage at midnight in the middle of Africa hoping not to get shot is one of them.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A call for advice...

So…if you leave a book on the floor and then the room floods and then it dries out but the book starts to get a funny black mold growing inside the front cover, and then you leave it on the floor again and the room floods and then it dries out but the mold keeps spreading and then you leave it on the floor again and the room floods and the mold seems to be trying to take over the front cover what do you do about it? The mold, I mean, not the obvious fact that I have a drainage issue and am a slow learner.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

This song reminded me of Darfur at the moment

3000 miles
Tracy Chapman

“Good girls walk fast in groups of three
Fast girls walk slow on side streets
Sometimes the girls who walk alone
Aren’t found for days or weeks

On the busy boulevards
Bad boys call you names and cruise you hard
Bullies laugh and grin and beat
Your soft skin against the cold concrete

Knock you down, make you bleed
Make you cry and make you think
I’ll die here soon if I don’t leave
If I don’t leave, if I don’t leave

This patch of sky and native ground
Take turns to push and pull you down
Forget trying to live and be happy
I’ll take safe and terror free

Hit the floor shut off the lights
As the bullets fly
Terror rules the dark of night
bouncing from the trees
This training ground for punks and thieves

Our pools are full of razor blades
Fools and innocents believe
Love and faith and truth and beauty
Can make a garden of this human factory

Bad girls run fast leave home alone
No trace or clue of where they’ve gone
Sometimes these girls are never found
Never found, never found