Do I love it or hate it?

The months have rolled by, I know most of the staff here pretty well, I enjoy the company of the other expats, and landing back here from Juba did feel a little like coming home. Sometimes it feels like yesterday that I arrived, and other times it feels like I have always lived here and the rest of my life is a dream.

The good aspects are certainly pretty clear, living and working in the middle of Africa, with different sight and smells each day, the smiling locals and the fun happy kids. Hanging out with the other excellent people from both MSF and ACF. Helping to run a clinic that is helping a local population that have had years of war and disruption.

The bad aspects are also pretty clear… living and working in the middle of Africa really. The dirt, and the rubbish, and the heat, and the flat landscape in every direction. The sometimes extremely hostile and unfriendly relations with staff, or the problems of motivation and direction with people with little initiative. Wondering if the little job I do in the little medical clinic in this vast country (let alone continent) really makes any difference at all in the world.

I am finding it hard to be without anyone around with the same outdoor passion for mountains and adventures that I have, and I often find myself sitting at the dinner table staring off into space, imagining skiing or climbing, but sometimes simply being in the green friendly back garden of my Christchurch house talking, scheming or sharing stories with friends.

The things I enjoy and experience here though are certainly unique and unforgettable. The blazing sunsets are fantastic, and the kids playing in the water outside or fishing in the swamp produce a constant stream of chatter and laughter. The African tukuls, the dusty roads, the oily food, the colourful African shirts that are all ‘made in china’.

The stories of course are outrageous unless you are actually here, with reciprocal clan murders last week, meeting the SPLA commander this week to ask for the release of arrested staff, the local traditional treatment of ‘cutting’ and bleeding, sitting for a moment with a patient Mary who was 160cm tall and weighed 20kg and didn’t last the night.

Do I love it or do I hate it? Still haven't deceided?


Heza said…
Richard - randomly came across your site via Google. Enjoyed your blog. Been in Juba for 5 weeks now and can't decide if it's love or hate although today it feels strongly like the latter. What bothers me is the sheer lack of drive in national and expat staff, lack of basic management structures in key organisations, the self pleasing government, the accommodation market crisis, or the total exploitation of a community by ruthless foreign traders and ill-advised donor activity. At least you got to help the helpless. I think the place is crazy - and when I consider the morality of it all I feel a little sick. But its not all bad - well thats what I say to keep myself from going mad. We are making a difference right?

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