Started work!

I am a volunteer with VSO but all entries on this blog are my personal responsibility alone and do not represent the views of VSO.

Sunday 14th October

End of week 2 in South Sudan. In terms of daily living I am settling into a sort of pattern although everything is still very new and even simple things can take a long time. There are 3 other volunteers living in the guest house and they have all been here for 6 months so they are able to show me where things are. We support each other and it’s good to have the company, especially in the evenings. We eat out all the time as there are no cooking facilities at the guest house – mostly this means food (very cheap) from one of the many street vendors who cook good food on charcoal stoves in near darkness. At weekends we treat ourselves to a better meal at one of the posher restaurants.

There is such a contrast between the rough streets, cheap food places and shops on the one hand and some very expensive and good quality hotels which are being built and opening all the time.

This week of course has been my first week at work. My daily pattern has been to get up early and get tea from a shop just round the corner, perhaps with some bread which I might have with a banana for breakfast. Then I have to get to the Ministry of Health which is perhaps 3 km away. This first week I have taken boda bodas  -the motorbike taxis but I don’t like them at all. 2 days I got a boda back as well but the other days I walked – it takes about 40 minutes, not unpleasant although I did arrive very hot!

Mostly the weather has been hot but 2 days we have had some rain and when it rains it really does pour. It can last for several hours but so far it has either been in the night and stopped before it was time for work or during the day when I have been in the office. But I will get caught out in the rain at some stage.

I have been made welcome at work but it is very early days and I have not yet met many people and it is not yet clear how I get into the work. So the week has been spent reading lots of background material and starting to make a few contacts. It feels rather frustrating but everybody says this is what it will be like, taking it steadily and gradually getting into it. Still very early days.

Last Saturday and yesterday I have spent time with another volunteer who had arrived the same day as me. We have decided to use Saturdays to explore different parts of the city, the first week we went to one of the big markets and then also had a drink at one of the places which is springing up next to the River Nile, very peaceful and quite different from the city a few hundred yards away.

This Saturday we explored Juba Town which is the older part of the city and which has a slightly different feel to it. Also on Saturday I bought a bicycle in one of the markets – so that will mean I don’t have to use the bodas which I will prefer and will also save me some money (to set against the cost of the bike!)


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