Another field trip and a kitten update

Sunday 10th February to Saturday 23rd February

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

I have mentioned here before that many of the businesses here are run by Eritrean people (and others by Kenyans and Ugandans). Some of them are political refugees and others are economic migrants. This week we learnt that one of the refugees who we know quite well has been accepted as a refugee by the Canadian government and will be travelling soon to Canada where he will start a new life. It is a tremendous opportunity for him and will change his life, although of course it also takes him even further from his family.

Although my plan is to return to the UK soon I do have a number of things to do first and one is to make another field visit, this time to one of the States further north where again VSO have volunteers at both State and County level. This time the traveling was by air, using United Nations Humanitarian Assistance Service planes. Several people from the previous trip in December came on this one too so that we could make some comparisons.

The town was interesting, big wide streets and a much calmer pace than Juba. An interesting large cathedral and impressive mosque. Less developed with lots of donkey water carts and other horses and carts. During the day it was nearly as hot as Juba but the evenings, nights and early mornings were much cooler, very pleasant. However it was very dusty and during each night my mouth and throat were so dry, and in the morning I found I had lost my voice.

We stayed from Monday to Friday and in that time we met senior people at the State Ministry and two of the County Health Departments. We also met the two main NGOs working in the area, visited a number of health facilities and attended the State monthly cluster meeting. The staff there have all the right ideas of trying to strengthen the County Health Departments, to get the NGOs to collaborate more and coordinate their work with the counties but it all reminded me of how fragile many of the county departments are and how much they need to develop if they are eventually going to take the lead in managing effective services locally.

This is after all the whole point of my placement here!


Yesterday I had lunch with some of the South Sudanese colleagues of one of the other volunteers here. I have met them before and have enjoyed hours of interesting conversation with them about South Sudanese and East African politics. One of them was due that afternoon to travel to Torit a journey I have done by car. Most of it is on dirt roads and it took us 3½ hours. He was planning to do it by motorbike and said it should be a bit quicker.

We heard later that evening that he had had a puncture 5 miles from Torit and he had had to push the motorbike the last 5 miles to the town. Such is life here.


I have realized that I have not talked recently about the kittens. Sadly at roughly weekly intervals one after another died so that we were then left with just one. Of all of them she was the most likely to survive as she was always the most pushy – and has therefore been christened “Rambo”. This past week my housemates managed to find a visiting vet and get some worming tablets. Next time the vet comes he will bring the cat inoculations – so maybe she will stand a chance. Hopefully when she is bigger she will catch the odd rat that makes an appearance but she will have to grow some.

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