Monday, February 19, 2007


Oh yeah! I was just detained for several hours in the airport in Geneina for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. GoS harrassment? What GoS harrassment?

"You will never get out of here!" the GoS guy yelled. "Never! You will live here!" 2 hours later as I walked out I was tempted to go smile and wave goodbye. But, I'm a humanitarian.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Some resources (especially for Kate):

My dear friend Kate recently had an excellent question. How does the pit latrine work, exactly? Let me answer that by going through the 3 most frequent questions that I've been asked.

1) How does it work exactly?

Wikipedia's pit latrine entry:

Tearfund's own publications:

And more...with drawings of how to use:

2) Doesn't it...ummm...splatter?

Well, yes, and no. After about a week you develop a certain amount more control over bodily functions that you wouldn't normally think twice about. Aim is an especially key skill to hone. You also develop an ability to squat for an extended period of time. So much so, that, after awhile, you begin to think that squating is actually a very comfortable way to spend your time.

3) How do disabled people use it?

To be perfectly frank, there are far fewer disabled people in Sudan than you would think. I have seen disabled adults but never disabled children. I think that it's almost impossible for them to survive. The amount of resilience I've seen among disabled adults is inspiring. They just make do and I suppose they do this in regard to the latrine as well and, if there's enough money in the family, they can build a seat over the latrine for the person.

Well, I'm glad we had this little chat. Hope that you've learned something new and enlightening here. Feel free to write in with other enquiries anytime and you most likely will not get a response because I won't have access to the internet.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Not Waving But Drowning

Stevie Smith

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Not waving...but drowning here people!!

(If you haven't noticed I'm enjoying having good internet access for a couple of days. Don't expect such rampant posting to continue...)

Reuters - U.S. envoy fears "blood bath" in Darfur

“The U.S. special envoy to Sudan said on Wednesday he feared aid groups could be forced out of Darfur and pro-government Janjaweed militia would try to close camps sheltering millions, resulting in a "blood bath."…"The government has lost control. There is anarchy in large parts of Darfur. The risk is that if the NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) leave, the U.N. humanitarian agencies leave ... there will be no one to care for these people in the camps who can be trusted.”…It has become increasingly difficult for relief workers in Darfur and the U.N. said last week that attacks on aid workers there almost doubled in 2006. In addition to insecurity, government-imposed bureaucracy and travel restrictions have hindered aid operations…Natsios said there was also a risk the Janjaweed militia, with the backing of the Sudanese government, would violently try to close down camps where more than 2.5 million people are sheltering. The Janjaweed have been blamed for the worst atrocities in Darfur….The United States is losing patience with Sudan's government over its handling of Darfur and is considering a more robust response to put pressure on Khartoum, a strategy Natsios has referred to as "Plan B." He declined to provide any details of Plan B, saying it was classified.”

Editor's Note: Go Plan B! Go Plan B!

Disaster threat hangs over Chad

UK aid agency Oxfam has warned a new humanitarian catastrophe, like that in Darfur, could happen in Chad if ethnic conflict is not brought under control.

Chad rebels attack border town, gov't blames Sudan

US Officials Condemn Mistreatment of Aid Workers By Sudanese Authorities in Darfur

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Too late...

In the words of T.S. Eliot: "Now is too late for action, too soon for contrition."

Heh! Heh! Eat your heart out!

My mother just sent me a link to the weather to remind me of what I'm missing:

NEW: Up to 20 inches of snow forecast for Ohio
NEW: Ohio girl killed by falling tree limb
NEW: Federal workers in D.C. sent home earlhy
NEW: More than 900 flights canceled at Chicago airport

Aaaaah! I just went outside to take a picture so I can show you all what it's like in Darfur today. (Please note, I would be wearing a tank top as it's 82 degrees but I don't enjoy being stoned.) There are very few times that I would rather be here than there...but this is definitely one of them.

Truth in advertising...

Bless! Sudan has taken truth in advertising to a whole new level...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Never pass up a free toilet…

Our Geneina compound had neither a toilet nor a sink. Another NGO compound had 10 – sinks, that is. I have no idea how many toilets they have although I suspect it’s equally gratuitous. So, through some hard bargaining that went a little something like this:

Kelsey: ‘How many freakin’ sinks do you need?’

Paul: ‘It’s not us…it was IOM.’

Kelsey: ‘Well, why don’t you give us one.’

Paul: ‘What’s in it for us?’

Kelsey: ‘Alleviating your troubled conscience for over-consumption of scarce Darfur resources.’

Katie: ‘How about cake?’

Paul: ‘Ok.’

We got the sink that is now proudly installed under our thorn tree. No more crossing the compound to wash your hands in the water tank in the middle of the night. No more brushing your teeth from a spigot two feet off the ground. It’s made an immeasurable impact in our standard of living.

So, you can imagine my reaction when Paul called a week later to ask if we wanted a toilet. What could I say? A toilet! No more pit latrine! A real, live, porcelain toilet! I said some words of wisdom that I’d like to now pass on to you. Words to live by – jot them down, quote me if you’d like. I said, ‘Never pass up a free toilet.’

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stuck in Geneina…

So, yesterday got some bad news. I can’t get an exit visa. This would not be a bit deal except that I’m supposed to be at a good friend’s wedding in Nairobi on Saturday. Of course, I can’t get an exit visa because I don’t have a travel permit and I can’t get a new travel permit because I don’t have a new work permit and I don’t have a new work permit because I don’t have a new stay visa. And, I don’t have a new stay visa because the Government of Sudan is out to ruin my life.

You think I exaggerate, but no. I think they have it in for me personally. I contemplated immolating myself on the steps of the Presidential palace in protest of the whole ‘exit visa’ system but am afraid the powers-that-be are so daft (and uncaring) that they might not take the hint. Instead, I have decided to lobby for any foreign intervention force or plan that involves the destruction of both the presidential palace and the ministry of interior. Do you hear me people! The time for quibbling is past – now is the time for action. Can I get an amen?

So, until my plan is carried out, I’ll be here in Geneina spending my evening staring out at the Chadian border and watching the armies come out to play. I can’t even return to Nyala. I can’t go to Khartoum. Just going to sit around here going grey. Maybe tomorrow I’ll look into Geneina’s retirement villages. I hear there's still some lovely shelters available in Adamarta camp that the community won't move into because they're convinced they're haunted. Sounds like just the place for me in my sunset years.