Photo courtesy of Martin Hay

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Security by the Nile

This week I've been doing some security training - this is important so that I know how to hibernate/relocate/evacuate from a field site effectively, assess a safe and secure compound and know what to put in my 'quick-run bag' should the unthinkable happen and I need to trek through the wilderness for 4 days to find safety. Better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes.

So, I sit down for our tea and cake break yesterday morning and say to the Irish guy next to me, "hey, I didn't know there was a river in Juba", "yes Gemma," he replies "its the Nile!" He smiles as an embarrassed look crosses my face. I left uni less than a month ago and it seems I've already forgotten basic geography. Shameful. Needless to say, struck with geography-style, celebrity-ism, awe, I took my camera out and captured a few snaps. The real life Nile, ladies and gents:

The Nile framed by the fairly unsightly barriers and barbed wire that keep people from falling in and undesirables climbing on-land. 

A slightly wonky photo of a man fishing on the Nile with a building in the background that I apparently shouldn't have been taking a picture of - they're fairly touchy about you taking pictures of things in S. Sudan.
In my defence, Google maps doesn't have rivers on it*, so I hadn't noticed the course of the Nile when looking up Juba before I came. I realised that I need to get a proper map of the area detailing all the important geographical features - I wonder if they've made any yet?!

* Doh! I just realised Google maps does have rivers on it. Ok, ok, I just didn't do my homework!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The compound

The good news is... the laptop I've been assigned has a reader for my camera card - hurray! So, since I've spent about 90% of my time here locked away in the compound, I thought I'd visually fill you in on my surroundings:

This is my room.

This is the plant outside my room. It needs a bit of water. I like it because the leaves change colour and it reminds me of the poinsettia I left back in the office. 

This is my walk to work - it takes about 2 minutes.

This is one of the flowers that falls from the tree on the way to work and distracts me every morning - it adds roughly another 30 seconds to the walk.

This is the office.

This is my temporary desk and laptop. I'm drinking  South Sudanese coke.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

First week in Juba

I've been here five days now, and I've been assured that Juba is relative luxury in comparison to where I'll be based for the majority of my stay here. I can believe it. The room I'm staying in is twice the size of my room in London (although that's not difficult), the showers, though cold, are inside, large and bug free and all the toilets flush. Grand. 

Three disappointments - the internet connection is unreliable at best - non-existant at worst, the water makes my hair sticky and limp no matter how much I rinse it, and I forgot to bring my camera lead which means that pictures in this blog will lack the personal touch. Here's a wikipic of the place - clearly not taken by me!

Had my first daytime outing today to the supermarket where you can buy a plastic, foot-long, gold-coloured trophy for £15 and a Kitkat chunky for £1. To make the trip worthwhile, I splashed out on the Kitkat and some soap to wash my clothes (75p).


On the way back we drove the long-way around the city where I saw plenty of cool stuff - cows with the biggest horns I'd ever seen, goats with really big fat tails and loads of little shops selling all-sorts of crazy stuff. It seems the world has come to Juba and creates some interesting juxtapositions.

Monday, 12 September 2011


Arrived in Nairobi this morning to drizzle and a cool breeze. It was only the palm trees which assured me that I was no longer in Harlesden. Everything else; the weather, the erratic road manner and the mix of languages, is reminiscent of NW10.

My time in Nairobi is short. I leave for Juba in the morning. Whilst here, I have acquainted myself with the Team House, two shopping malls and a Java coffee house - thanks to my fellow stop-over team mate who is also leaving for north Kenya tomorrow. She introduced me to enough to keep me occupied during my stop overs here, for which I am very thankful.

Very excited to meet my Motot team in Juba tomorrow and start finding out a little bit more about what they have in store for me...